MUSIC / Double Image - Purcell Room, South Bank Centre, London SE1

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The Independent Culture
Double Image is a young chamber group (formed in 1990) presenting established works alongside new or neglected repertoire and works by women composers. The premiere in their Saturday Purcell Room recital was Erika Fox's The Moon of Moses (from the poem by the World War I poet, Isaac Rosenberg), a stylised theatre piece for solo cello. Emma Chamberlain gave a powerful, confident reading that approached the boundaries of the instrument's technique. Starting from a nebulous world of intervallic shapes, the music asserted a dramatic presence through the interplay of strongly contrasted themes. Continuity was established by degrees, variation and intercutting leading to a euphonious climax in octaves, then winding down to an enigmatic conclusion. This piece could be a valuable addition to the meagre stock of music for solo cello.

The ensemble began the evening with Stravinsky's suite from The Soldier's Tale in the composer's own reduction. There was strong individual playing here - not least Andrew Smith's devilish fiddling in Le violon du soldat. Less certain was a sense of purpose in performing together. Ravel's Chansons madecasses, sung with warm intensity by mezzo Jacqueline Varsey, led on to Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time. No question about their sense of common purpose here. In Abime des oiseaux there was certainly memorable solo clarinet playing from Andrew Sparling as well.