United Kingdom Timelapse 2.0 – Night Owl Digital Concert: Trish Clowes (saxophone), David Gordon (harpsichord and piano), Orchestra of the Swan / David LePage (violin/director). Filmed in Purfleet, first streamed on 26.4.2021. (CC)
Bach – Goldberg Variations: Aria; Variation XV; Aria
Trish Clowes – VAria; Wayne’s Waltz
Grieg – Holberg Suite: first movement, Praeludium
Michael Nyman – Drowning by Numbers: Trysting Fields (arr. string ensemble)
Radiohead – Pyramid Song
F. Couperin – Les Barricades Mystérieuses
David LePage – A Scanner Darkly
Anon – La Rotta (arr. LePage)
Rameau/LePage – Triptych
Attending the filming of this concert in a COVID-safe environment in Purfleet on Sunday, March 14 was a real joy. To be able to look down from the gallery and experience the magic of the atmospheric setting, with its ‘light clock,’ offered a glimpse of the flavour of the film that would result. That’s an important observation, I feel – the finished film pulls it all together in the most magnificent fashion, and credit really should be given to the technical team – Woodbury Studios – that enables this level of excellence. Watching the ever-so-mobile cameras (you can really enjoy that aspect in the Nyman) was to experience another exercise in slickness.
The Timelapse concept enables past and present to mix and mingle with joyful abandon and to yield miraculous results. To take an example, to go from Trish Clowes’s jazz VAria (after the Goldberg excerpt) to the bracing performance of the first movement of Grieg’s Holberg Suite illuminates all three pieces; lighting, too, plays its part, the vibrant greens of the Grieg underscoring the open-air freshness of both piece and performance.
It was the Aria from the Goldberg Variations in the arrangement for string trio led by David LePage’s eloquent violin playing that actually launched the concert, with viola Rose Redgrave and cello Nick Stringfellow; and watching jazz saxophonist Trish Clowes in action subsequently was in itself worth the trip to deepest Purfleet, her VBach the ideal (jazz) complement to that ‘Aria’.
Transitions between pieces are effortlessly managed. Amazingly, the Orchestra of the Swan captured the spirit of Radiohead’s Pyramid Song, while gradually increasing in density and eventually landing on a low, sustained sonority before hitting the stark juxtaposition of François Couperin’s Les Barricades Mystérieuses (a piece originally for harpsichord). The shifting rhythms of the inner voices seemed not a million miles away from the dissonant, grungy textures and harmonies of Trish Clowes’s Wayne’s Waltz, an innocuous title for a complex, brilliant piece that at times deconstructs – dissolves, even – the idea, or memory, of a waltz. Clowes led the members of the OOTS who were around her in a circle; David Gordon, the OOTS’s resident pianist, was once again excellent.
Bach acted as a marker in this concert: at the mid-point we have his Goldberg Variations, the Variation XV before returning to the Aria at the close (just as the Goldbergs do).
David LePage’s A Scanner Darkly is stompingly rhythmic yet – as the title implies – darkly shaded; again, the grittiness of the 14th-century Italian La Rotta, its origins lost in the mists of time, seemed a mere step away. And the outgoing La Rotta now feels very much of today, as does the sequence of Rameau movements arranged by LePage under the title Triptych. Fascinating to hear how jazz and Rameau resonate so closely in one of Gordon’s transitions, both segueing between Baroque panels and interacting with them. The madcap finale of the Rameau runs headfirst into the reprise of the Aria – giving the latter something of the purity that Bach achieves in the original score (although here it doubles as outro with the credits rolled over it).
Timelapse 2:0 incorporates pieces from the OOTS’s new album, following on from their first Timelapse album which I reviewed here. The immediate disc follow-up to Timelapse will be Labyrinth, recorded at Saffron Hall on April 5-6, 2021 and due for release in November.
For more about the Orchestra of the Swan click here.