MUSIC / The Hebrides Ensemble - The Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

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The Independent Culture
The Icelandic composer Hflidi Hallgrimsson writes a kind of music that is simple, amiable, unthreatening, full of colour and light. His Intarsia for wind quintet is a set of little tableaux that are relaxed and appealing, gently repeating themselves and even sprawling a little. 'My aim was to enjoy myself,' he says without irony, a thing only the likes of John Cage could have admitted 30 years ago.

The title refers to a style of knitting. So it is less a tissue of rigorous constructionism than a Fair Isle jumper. The Hebrides Ensemble performed it with their accustomed flair. As for rigour, they also played Elliott Carter's Eight Etudes and a Fantasy, a series of rule- governed miniatures.

Schnittke's completion of a teenage piano quartet by Mahler revealed the Russian's facility in the arts of grand drama and sentiment. For irony - of the most affectionate kind - these players turned to Schoenberg's arrangement of Johann Strauss's Emperor Waltz. This had lots of swing, but was more interesting in showing the arranger's genius for chamber scoring, whether he was being funny or deadly serious.

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