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London Composers' Forum

Having recently myself written for 23-part woodwind ensemble, I was much looking forward to a concert produced by London Composers' Forum and performed by London Consort of Winds. It was explained that this group sometimes appears as a 'clarinet choir', and tonight's 17-piece ensemble was certainly clarinet-intense, but also piquantly included flute and oboe - a finely played Eb clarinet also expanded the register. The bass end of the register was really interesting; all built round a wonderful contrabass clarinet, who was backed up pairs of bassoons and bass clarinets, plus alto sax and horn (an actual French horn.)

'Swell' by Neil Luckett richly exploited this dark clarinet porridge, and Liz Sharma's 'Sequence' somehow spun the tutti sound with wonderful mobility and plasticity. Works by David Arditti and Philip Danesfield opened and closed the concert in a most fitting way. Pleasingly, the ensemble alternated new works with baroque arrangements (a pulsing version of the Bach Ricercar for instance) by conductor Alan Taylor, who also contributed an interesting new work starting out from a tiny, almost Webern-feeling fragment.

What a lot of work went into this concert, by the composers (who'd mostly rewritten their works from the previous clarinet-only scoring) and the performers, who played a lot of new music with such confidence. It was also a pleasure to visit St Faith's Church, London SE24, a building I often pass on my rounds in southeast London, but had never been inside. The comfortable, finely decorated 1950s interior added to the atmosphere of enjoyment and good company.





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