BBCSO at the Barbican
Matthew-Walker, Robert, Musical Opinion
A new BBC commission from Simon Bainbridge was a highlight of the concert by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under David Robertson at the Barbican on 9 February. This ; was Diptych, the two parts of which, so the composer told us in his Programme Note, can be performed either together or, as on this occasion, in his preferred choice of being separated by both another work and also, as in this instance, by the concert's Interval.
Frankly, I do not think this notion is such a good idea, for it is difficult, if not impossible, for an audience of whatever level of musicality to retain the elements of the First Part and successfully relate them to the Second if the temporal flow of the work has been interrupted by another, inevitably more familiar and possibly greater piece, followed by conversation and conviviality, before settling down to Part Two. This is, after all, not a night at the opera.
These difficulties having been placed upon his audience it proved problematical overall to judge Bainbridge's work in the fair and dispassionate manner that he would doubtless wish for and, indeed, expect. The fragmentary nature of the work owes much to Elliott Carter and to some degree Stockhausen, although Bainbridge does not place the virtually impossible task on to his listeners of having three or more movements going on at the same time; at least, for too long a period.
The notion of building a musical edifice from fragments is an interesting one, certainly for a gifted composer, which Simon Bainbridge undoubtedly is. …