The structure of the PRS Foundation’s New Audio Biennial now seems firmly set up. A weekend presenting 20 mostly new functions, every single nominally long lasting just 15 minutes, and each executed 2 times in an hour-long slot, divided by a system dialogue with the composer and perhaps the performers. The final biennial took spot in Hull and London in 2019 Coventry, the current United kingdom city of society, hosted the new just one, which will be recurring at the Southbank Centre in London in July.
This year’s programme celebrates the 10th anniversary of the scheme by together with some is effective from prior biennials, so that there are 10 new scores and 10 revivals, with the usual wide-minded combine of genres and variations. So on the opening night time there have been two premieres, together with parts at first listened to in 2014 and 2017. The new functions, both performed in Coventry Cathedral, provided the frame. Paul Purgas’s pulsing exploration of the earlier, present and long term of analogue recording strategies, complete with mild demonstrate, finished an evening that had started alternatively unpromisingly with Toby Young’s Breathlines, which at just about 25 minutes conveniently outstayed its welcome.
Created for saxophonist Amy Dickson and the choir and ensemble of the Armonico Consort, and explained as a thing between a concerto and a meditation, Breathlines alternates extracts from a pre-recorded lecture on respiration tactics with anodyne saxophone soliloquies accompanied by baroque strings and wordless voices and occasional halos of electronic seem. It is supposed to develop a house of contemplation and invoke beneficial change as a substitute, there was only impatience at its deficiency of real musical substance.
In in between, the HMV Empire performed host to Philip Venables and David Hoyle’s scabrous, scary, and hilarious effectiveness piece Illusions, initially observed in Hull in 2017. And in Drapers’ Hall, the pianists Xenia Pestova Bennett, Sarah Nicolls and Eliza McCarthy returned to Arlene Sierra’s City Birds from 2014. Sierra overlays samples of the tunes of a few acquainted British birds – the blackcap, skylark and cuckoo – with the seems of the 3 pianos, percussion and disklavier, so that the birds grow to be part of the musical material in an utterly unpretentious and in the end rather touching way.