Review: Ensemble 360, Third Floor Arts Centre, Portsmouth

Club Scene with Sam Cherry

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Charlie Piper’s new work, With Stolen Fire, relates to the Greek legend of Prometheus, who nabbed the flame from Zeus and gave it to man.

Piper is associate composer with Sheffield-based concert promoter Music in the Round, and it was easy to hear in the pounding rhythms and stark harmonies both a celebration of that city’s steel tradition and a lament for its decline.

In this Portsmouth Chamber Music concert the score was performed by MitR’s resident ensemble with flair and concentration, and even a suggestion of sparks flying.

Works from the 20th century by Czech composers Janacek and Martinu were played with joyous flamboyance, contrasting with plaintive solos, but the revelation in the concert was provided by Louis Spohr’s 1813 Nonet.

A work of ripe melodic invention, it was played with a blend of tender intensity and bustling vitality, with both dark and bright colourings, and the finale fairly rippled with enriching vitality.

The players, on leave of absence from the orchestra, struck musical sparks off each other as they relished the individual freedom of expression of chamber music.