Anne L Ryan reports on Anglia Sinfonia performing Laborintus II by Luciano Berio, West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge, 29 March 20

Local Cambridgeshire Artist
Anglia Sinfonia conducted by Paul Jackson made a little bit of history on Thursday evening at West Road Concert Hall. Their performance of Laborintus II by Luciano Berio was the first collaboration between students from the music and drama courses at Anglia Ruskin University. It was carried off with panache and excitement, leaving the audience totally exhilarated and in contemplative pleasure.

Luciano Berio (1925-2003) was one of the most important music innovators of this century. Laborintus II was written on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the birth of the Italian poet, Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) between 1963-65.

From the opening sequence we, the audience, stepped into the production with the gifted narrator (Thomas Meacher) who, until the first note struck, involved us in the tricky question of the pain of the soul. Two Lost Souls, dressed as clean modern day street urchins (Rachel Owen and Paul Giles), with what seemed like astrological symbols sketched on their bodies, stole the show many times. Their writhing/static movements in response to the music, created bewilderment and confusion which were interlaced with moments of embrace, showing exquisite enduring love.

At times, Anglia Sinfonia appeared transfixed by the power of the Berio's music. Two concert harps, two drum kits, and some beautifully attuned electro-acoustic sound diffusion (Julio d'Escrivan) were added to the usual collection of ensemble instruments. Combine this with eight spoken voices and three singing voices, and the power of the sound made, from diminuendo to crescendo, is apparent. At times nothing could be distinguished in the cacophonic din. And then, out of nowhere came the blissful, elegant, pitch perfect sound of three exquisite sung voices (Amy Gaylor, Eleanor Walker, Georgina Smit). At one point, the mish-mash of text which included T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Eduardo Sanguineti and Dante was so confused that a humorous reference to West Road Concert Hall and liquid refreshment made a happy relief.

The most satisfying element of this performance was the ensembles adherence to timing and pitch, aided by tuning forks and an absolute trust in Paul Jackson's conducting. If this is the first production between the drama and music students at Anglia Ruskin, Moving Tone News looks forward to many more stunning collaborations in the future.

Writer: Anne L Ryan