OPERA / Paragon Ensemble - RSAMD, Glasgow

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The Independent Culture
Many of us will have met one of those bores who tries to entertain you by playing 'God Save the Queen' in the style of Mozart, Wagner or Schoenberg. Gheorghe Costinescu's The Musical Seminar extends this joke to 90 minutes of absurdist music theatre. Six musicians and a bunch of actors snored, stammered, chattered and jostled, translating an obscure tone-row into various musical idioms.

It was all very Sixties, self-conscious, unfunny and embarrassing. Worst of all, the musical quotations were short and the players were never quite ready for them; the conductor, Ewan Anderson, pulled them together just as they were travelling back into atonal cacophony, and most of the references were lost.

There was some delight in seeing well-known Scottish musicians - the percussionist Pamella Dow, the trombonist John Kenny, the soprano Irene Drummond - making fools of themselves. This was a change from the worthy performances of earnest contemporary tracts for which the Paragon Ensemble is best known.

The relevance of this piece seemed to depend on its engagement with long-forgotten non-issues. 'Is music a language?' screamed Drummond. Mr Costinescu evidently thought not, and you could see why.

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