by Rachel Beaumont

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Sublime contact: Currie and Hodges at the Queen Elizabeth Hall

Colin Currie and Nicholas Hodges
Queen Elizabeth Hall
Stalls E36, £15
19 April 2018
Southbank page

Birtwistle Intrada (UK premiere)
Stockhausen Klavierstück V
Birtwistle Variations from the Golden Mountain
Feldman King of Denmark
Birtwistle Intrada
Stockhausen Kontakte

Three events in this programme: new Birtwistle, Hodges and Currie, and Kontakte. I’ll begin with the Birtwistle, performed twice to bookend a well-chosen esoteric interior suite. Not surprisingly given its name, this feels like the beginning of something rather than a work complete in and of itself, making the bookend idea more than just an opportunity to hear a short piece twice. What surprised me most about Intrada was its quiet beauty, glinting aurally within the hard Birtwistlean concision I expect, like the unexpected heart of a gemstone as the light moves upon it.

Second event: Currie and Hodges. They’re really very good. The selection of this programme and its execution, their mutual precision and deliberateness are sources of a joy that swiftly moves into smug satisfaction that I can see these guys play without even trying that hard.

Celebration of the second event is tied up with the third and most important: Kontakte. What a piece. Its savagery, its monstrousness, its power, its glory, its phenomenal volume, that a mind could think this and that there are even ways of creating these sounds. Add in the performance art of Hodges and Currie, alert through every muscle and every brain wrinkle, coordinating a panoply of instruments to coincide miraculously and gut-wrenchingly with the electronics. The result is musical ecstasy, and an outpouring of gratitude that this is what the reopening of the Queen Elizabeth Hall means.

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