Repin/Gergiev/LSO, Barbican Hall, London
Julian Warburton and Friends, Sounds New, Canterbury
Aronowitz Ensemble, The Forge, London

Runaway concerto leaves audience and soloist panting behind

Pity the composer whose world premiere is sandwiched between two modern masterpieces. Written in memory of his mother for Vadim Repin, Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra, James MacMillan's Violin Concerto careers like a runaway train through timbres, domestic and exotic, in three breathless movements.

The contrast with Stravinsky's tart, sophisticated Symphony in C was an unhappy one. Vibraphone and marimba eddy greedily in MacMillan's score, sucking Repin's burly, glamorous sound into their dark, sea-green whorls of sound, then casting it out for a vertiginous reel, all strident double-stopping and ungrateful arpeggios. The ideas come thick and fast. Too thick and fast to be developed coherently. A piccolo plays a melody of penny-whistle naivety. Brass trill like a vengeful mariachi band. Male voices bark in German: "Ein, zwei, drei, vier! Meine Mutter tanz mit mir!" A horn sounds the "Dies Irae", crotales blur the pitch, whip and snare-drum snicker. As a portrait of the mother-son relationship at its most intense and pre-verbal, the work has a rough-hewn honesty. But extensive revision of the percussion parts is needed. If a player as strong as Repin cannot be heard above MacMillan's orchestral textures, and if an orchestra as sharp as the LSO cannot compensate for that imbalance, it is unlikely any other soloist and orchestra will.

The rest of the concert saw Gergiev and the LSO at their best: a sensual, supremely unhurried reading of Debussy's Prélude à l'après midi d'un faune in which Gareth Davies's flute shimmered into focus over limpid pools of colour from the harp and strings; a pristine Symphony in C in which the voices of Baba the Turk, Tom Rakewell and Anne Truelove could be heard; and an electrifying Symphony of Psalms, with forthright intonations from the female sections of the LSO Chorus, perfumed counterpoint from the woodwind and divisi cellos of dizzying beauty.

A similar fate to MacMillan's befell Basil Athanasiadis, whose Dance of the Seven Veils was premiered by percussionist Julian Warbuton and friends between Cage's Amores and Xenakis's Pléïades at the Sounds New festival in Canterbury. Reichian rhythm patterns and Clangers-esque sighs from the vibes prevailed in Athanasiadis's supine, Japanese-influenced score. Written more than 60 years earlier, the Cage sounded far fresher, evocative of age-mottled mirrors and the impassive eyes of Victorian china dolls in the opening Solo for prepared piano; rainfall and the sound of a shoe being lazily kicked off a foot in Trio for nine tom-toms and pod rattle; the absent-minded tap of a toothbrush against teeth in Trio for seven wood blocks, and the alluring softness of an old mattress in the concluding piano solo.

Scored for six percussionists, Xenakis's 1979 masterpiece Pléïades has retained its kaleidoscopic brilliance, the bubbling, fizzing, dazzling collisions of claviers, the rolling, epic waves of sound in Peaux, the shattering euphoria of Métaux and the glorious binding logic of Mélanges. Simply thrilling.

The Aronowitz Ensemble had a busy day last Sunday, performing at the Wigmore Hall in the morning and in an informal concert at The Forge, Camden, in the evening. In this super-intimate venue, barely bigger than a generous sitting room, the string players chose a pale, covered sound for Purcell's Fantasias – the second woven around the pedal note held by violist Tom Hankey – warming their tone in the most perfectly balanced chords and spontaneous musical dialogue for Vaughan Williams's Phantasy Quintet. You could tell they had played Dvorak earlier in the day, such was the sweetness and lack of artifice.

I did not warm to pianist Tom Poster's tea-dance transcriptions of Gershwin's "Love Walked Right In" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me" (too much happening in the middle register, not enough in the bass), but the performance of the Adagio from Elgar's Piano Quintet was stunning, most particularly from violinist Nadia Wijzenbeek. This was the first in a series of concerts that includes a collaboration with Mark Padmore, a performance of Verklärte Nacht, and further exploration of works written for viol consort and influenced by viols – a series likely to be the hottest of hot chamber music tickets.

Next Week:

If you could relive one moment in your life, what would it be? Michael van der Aa's After Life poses the question. Anna Picard listens in

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering