Insight Ensemble - Underground Classical Review
Posted on: 2017-05-25
Subterranean high drama at iconic Bristol location
With the significant upturn in the weather over the last week, it was with a slight tinge of regret that we made our way to The Loco Klub on Sunday evening knowing that we were leaving behind fabulous weather to enter one of Bristol’s dark and cryptic venues.
Once my eyes adjusted, the setting immediately transported us back to Victorian England and the height of the industrial revolution. With beautifully vaulted ceilings and cavernous dimensions, the buzz in the air and drama of the occasion was palpable.
Guided by our aural instincts, we navigated our way through a series of moodily lit tunnels to encounter the expressive and Shakespearean-esque Voice for Flute by Tianyi Lu. The fluidity of the event quickly became apparent as this performance ended, the audience's collective attention was instantly drawn to the String Orchestra in a neighbouring tunnel. Moments later after scurrying across to claim a favourable vantage point, we were treated at close quarters to a lively and theatrical recital of Karl Jenkins’ Palladio. As the musicians stood in a huddle to play the piece, a gifted Hat Juggler in Paddy McRea, provided another layer of theatre and took full advantage of the vast space to visually complement the music.
With an unerring cross-fading like precision, the spectators spun 180 degrees in unison to be met by the Wind Quintet at the opposite end of the tunnel, as they began playing Debussy’s Opening of Petite Suite. After yet another excellent rendition, the sell-out crowd now eagerly anticipating the next mass shift, quickly moved through to an adjacent tunnel to view the Brass Ensemble’s Fanfare from ‘La Peri’ on a raised platform occupying the centre of the space. This once again enhanced the overall experience as it created an ‘in-the-round’ production whilst freestyle dancer, Daniel Hay-Gordon, formed a dramatic visual accompaniment in the next tunnel.
The clever lighting then switched our attention to Solo Percussionist, Harriet Riley and her highly energetic enactment of Iannis Xenakis’ complex piece, Rebonds B. The Acrobatic Duo, Jamie Double and Bethany Button, matched the intense arrangement with their daring yet elegant and controlled routine.
To say that we were already hugely impressed with the collaborative and modern presentation of a broad selection of classical music is an understatement so when the finale began; we sensed we were in for a real treat. Conducting the full symphony orchestra for last three great compositions of the evening was the charismatic Jonathan James. Clearly very knowledgeable about each of the chosen three pieces, he proceeded to tell us the narrative behind each masterpiece before commanding the orchestra under his spell. From Beethoven to Dvorak and onto Mussorgsky’s Night on a Bare Mountain, it was a rousing end to a superb evenings entertainment. Insight Ensemble have created an exciting format that introduces Classical musical to a new generation in a family-friendly, fun and mischievous environment, whilst reacquainting others with timeless music in a contemporary setting. Bravo!
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