Music from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland 2011 PLUG New Music Festival - all tracks recorded live
As part of a growing programme of contemporary music, where works by established composers were heard alongside those from students at the Royal Conservatoire, it was becoming clearer to me that some of the most interesting music I was encountering was coming from our growing Composition Department. Out of this realisation, PLUG was born in 2006 - a platform to showcase new work based at the Conservatoire Since those first days, PLUG has grown from strength to strength and is now heralded as one of the most exciting festivals in the UK, if not wider, for new music.
Altogether we have premiered over 300 new works since PLUG has been running, ranging from large scale orchestral and ensemble works, operas and ballets, to small individual études and sequenzas.
For our students and players alike it is a phenomenal opportunity to share in the excitement of new work. Intrigued? Come to the next PLUG and feel the buzz for yourself!
Dr. Gordon McPherson, Head of Composition
“It’s not a festival, it’s actually a phenomenon” Michael Tumelty, The Herald
Gordon McPherson states that "PLUG has grown [sic] from strength to strength and is now heralded as one of the most exciting festivals in the UK, if not wider, for new music." The various works in this programme, as well as the performances are really rather good.
With regard to the opening work by Glasgow-born Christopher Duncan, Twine is an attractive easy listen, broadly neo-Classical in spirit. American Timothy Miles's Twitching is spectacularly performed by Calum Robertson, for whom it was written: - a memorably virtuosic workout for the clarinet, trilling and jerking up and down, in and out until it literally runs out of puff. Surge was written by another Glaswegian, Claire McCue. To her credit, the work was performed last year on BBC Radio 3's Hear and Now programme. It is a stylish, colourfully orchestrated piece, its quiet, twitchy first bars the prelude to the titular 'surge' of energy. Jason Staddon's Barotrauma is a musical abstraction of an ear infection Staddon had. Despite its noisiness, it stands out from the rest of the disc with its own 'punk' appeal, and Staddon is very enthusiastically applauded by the audience. There are three works for soprano in the programme. Jay Capperauld takes a text of Ludwig Rellstab's, famously set by Schubert in his Schwanengesang, D.957: 'Aufenthalt', which Capperauld has given the curiously tautological title, Sojourn Aufenthalt. His treatment of it is powerful, melodic but darkly ominous, with some frightening crashing chords towards the end from pianist Theodoros Iosifidis, and it is well sung in German by Fiona Wilkie, who has an incredibly Wagnerian voice. In Anna Shucksmith's Die Nachtblume Soprano Jessica Leary's voice sounds as though it could yield a career. The piano part is very much in the lieder tradition, but with some cool jazzy riffs indicating its post-modern ambient. Lewis Murphy's Am Turme is an adventurously Schoenbergian setting of the poem by Annette von Droste-Hülshoff. Murphy's piece is highly atmospheric and brimming with fine touches that bode well for his future. Last but not least, Steve Forman’s Gill's Delirium is another work about illness, "a quiet little song of someone's illusions and delusions". The unusually-scored piece itself is fairly bright and upbeat, not to mention typically percussion- and rhythm-oriented.
Though these are all live recordings, sound quality is very good. Some of the tracks end with boisterous applause, but generally the audience is rather well behaved. Overall, no one interested in a career in composition or with a general interest in new music will come to any grief from acquiring this disc, and may well find themselves enjoying the whole programme.- Byzantion, Musicweb-international.com