Riot Ensemble

A 6ft tall rosewood and silver contrabass clarinet that plays notes so low in pitch you’d be forgiven for thinking an earthquake was revving up to lay waste a city was at the centre of a new composition, Chamber Symphony by rising star Scott Lygate, which was given its world premiere by this brilliantly named group of musicians at Blackheath Halls. Lygate, himself a contrabass virtuoso, scored the three-movement piece for 12 instruments which covered almost the whole range of sounds the human ear can detect, from the rumbling depths of the giant clarinet to the vertiginous heights scaled by the piccolo. It was a joy to listen to, shapeshifting from the quiet beauty of the two violins, viola, cello and double bass taking turns to play a gorgeous lilting leitmotif to a jaunty, raucous sort of roundelay between the contrabass clarinet and a bassoon. The premiere took up the second half of a magnificent concert, conducted by Aaron Holloway-Nahum, that included Augusta Read Thomas’s jazz-tinged Capricious Angels, Jonathan Harvey’s gloriously eclectic Jubilus – which featured dazzling viola soloing by Stephen Upshaw – and Helga Arias Parra’s Incipit, a lovely work inspired by Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. 

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