Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Time of Their Lives; Complicite Are Turning Their Extravagant Theatrical Imaginations to the World of Classical Music

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Time of Their Lives; Complicite Are Turning Their Extravagant Theatrical Imaginations to the World of Classical Music

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL WHITE

THE basic formula of concerts hasn t changed in centuries: the musicians file on stage, they sit, they play, they bow, they leave. But there have always been dissenting voices prepared to ask if there isn t a better way of doing things. And although Simon McBurney, founding genius of Theatre de Complicite now known simply as Complicite and his composer brother Gerard are making no great issue of it, their new production The Noise of Time, which opens tonight at the Barbican, is certainly another way.

With four actors shadowing the four members of the American-based Emerson String Quartet, and a complete performance of the Quartet No 15 by Shostakovich, you might call it a dramatised concert. But it is more than that and the McBurneys call it a meditation , designed with visual images, projections, pre-recorded sound and choreography to take in the composer s life and world.

The title comes from an essay by Osip Mandelstam, the Russian poet who died in the camps in the 1930s, Gerard says. But it s the kind of phrase that turns up everywhere in Russian culture of that period, and it refers to the sound that s left behind by history: the shadowy traces memory leaves in our minds, and the unreliability of our efforts to read the past.

Simon s interest in music has been obvious from his previous Complicite shows, a number of which have involved collaborations with his brother Gerard, a composer, musicologist and Russophile who studied in Moscow during the last years of the old regime and has since established himself as the source of all Western wisdom on Eastern Bloc composers.

Shostakovich is a speciality.

The original idea for this meditation came from New York s Lincoln Center, where the management were looking for ways to refresh a tried, tested but tired concert series called Great Performers. The GPs, it was decided, should be asked to play their familiar repertory in unfamiliar ways that challenged the audience s perception of why they were there and what was going on. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.