9pm, Sunday July 7th, Church of San Materno, Maccagno, Italy

Though almost flawless on both a technical and ensemble level, this concert of works for guitar trio failed for the most part to excite me. I’m not sure whether it’s because of the available contemporary repertoire for this ensemble, or rather because of the group’s personal musical preferences, but all the works in the first half sounded rather similar! At no clear point was there any texture other than three guitars playing together, which created a wash of colour where I was keen for a little more definition. Very few of the instrument’s extended techniques were properly explored, and though the musical language was undoubtedly contemporary, there seemed to be nothing about any one work or movement that made it stand out from the others.

Thank goodness, then, for the three SoundSCAPE commissions which concluded the concert! Each of the three composers had contemplated the capabilities of the ensemble, coming to a range of conclusions as to how to make it sparkle. It was here, I felt, that the ensemble was used to its greatest effect, with challenging use of extended techniques in Mutations by Devon Yasamune Toyotomi. However, the stand-out work of the concert was lace/leaf by Lydia Brindamour, using delicate, spacious gestures to great effect. After the deluge of notes and textural wash present in so many of the other works, this care for time and the minute came as a welcome, meditative repose.

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