MUSIC / Ensemble X - St Giles Cripplegate

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The Independent Culture
The 1992 New Macnaghten Concerts are exploring a variety of contemporary vocal idioms over the next four weeks. Programmes include recent works by Martland, Bryars and others; the series started rolling last Thursday with Ensemble X, a band of vocalists, clarinets and keyboards dedicated to breaking down barriers.

The major event was the premiere of William Sweeney's Soruidh Slan . . . , a Gaelic lament combining folksong-inflected soprano and baritone lines with a web of clarinet melody evolving over harmonies of tonal simplicity or minimalist insistence. Errollyn Wallen's I Hate Waiting, simpler in conception, framed the composer's own vocal solo, with piano accompaniment, between instrumental interludes and taped station sounds recorded at King's Cross, Euston and Camden Road.

There was a humorous slant to Simon Limbrick's Wash and Tom Johnson's Bedtime Stories, witty texts and musical jokes delivered by Fiona Baines with clarinettist Jonathan Cooper. Paul Kissaun sang jazz standards and popular songs. Last-minute cancellations produced the unexpected bonus of a John Cage tribute: Five (five minutes for five instruments) and Variations 3, for instruments, with ex- Rambert dancer Mark Baldwin moving elegantly round the performance space.

Next concert: Singcircle, 22 Oct. Booking: 081-852 1295