Review: Ensemble 360, Third Floor Arts Centre, Portsmouth

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It is no coincidence that parts of Charlie Piper’s new work, Jacaranda, have a sense of suspended animation.

After all, the title is borrowed from a sculpture by the man credited as inventor of the hanging mobile.

Piper was inspired by the gentle chiming of such an item above his niece’s cot, and Jacaranda has something of the innocence and charm of Benjamin Britten’s children-related music – even borrowing a tune from him for a lullaby. Piper’s work – commissioned by Music in the Round, co-promoters of this Portsmouth Chamber Music series – also features what he calls ‘branches of rotating material, from which hang other independently rotating branches’.

But if that sounds complex, in reality the music has a directness of expression to make immediate contact.

In places it echoes the driving rhythms heard in the previous item, Britten’s Three Divertimenti for String Quartet, where a moody waltz was a particular delight.