CLASSICAL & OPERA

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The Independent Culture
The Yggdrasil Quartet of Aberdeen plays at Christ Church, Spitalfields, London E1 ( 0171-377 1362) on 19 June at 7.30pm

The innovative Spitalfields Festival has developed a reputation for commissioning new pieces and setting them alongside complementary works of other periods. And for neat and interesting programming, one can't get much more inviting than this line-up from the young Yggdrasil Quartet (all Swedes, but based in Scotland), who are described by artistic director Judith Weir as a "highly dynamic foursome who produce a rugged, almost epic sound".

Appropriately, the Yggdrasils play two Scandinavian quartets by Nielsen and Grieg, as well as Mendelssohn's Op. 44 No 2. And the concert is made up of a potentially exciting new Spitalfields commission - the String Quartet of Julia Gomelskaya. A native of the Ukraine, Julia studies at the Guildhall School of Music where her teacher is the composer Robert Saxton. He terms her work "full of amazing fluency and flair. She has already walked away with three major Guildhall compositional prizes and I can see why. Her music comes off the page - that's to say it often looks different to what it actually eventually sounds like. In performance, it creates its own unique atmosphere. In that respect, and also in terms of her amazing technique and prolificness, I'd compare Gomelskaya to the young Shostakovich or Britten."

High praise, indeed. Yet Julia Gomelskaya herself seems largely unfazed by the attention she is now receiving. "I love to compose," she says, "in all kinds of forms and genres. I recently produced a full-length ballet score based on Jane Eyre so this quartet allowed me to find a more intimate and personal mode of expression. I call it From the Bottom of the Soul, not that it's strictly programmatic." Form, length, time taken to write? "One movement. nine minutes. Two weeks." And how does Julia Gomelskaya feel about the imminent premiere? "Excited, of course. I want to hear it."

EYE ON THE NEW

Further world premieres from Guildhall students come from the Guildhall Chamber Ensemble, directed by Simon Bainbridge, in a free lunchtime concert at Christ Church, Spitalfields, London E1 at 1pm on 18 June. Alison Kay's Reflections in a Dark Pool and Mark Horton's Seen from Afar sit alongside Roberto Gerhard's Leo. Phone 0171-377 1362 for more information

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