Lichfield Festival Concert Review
Different Trains –
Mr McFall’s Chamber with Luxmuralis
Two leading practitioners of widely divergent artistic practices collaborated on a new project as part of Lichfield Festival, when the leading String ensemble Mr McFall’s Chamber and local multi-disciplinary arts organisation Luxmuralis presented Different Trains.
Playing music by two leading American composers from the Minimalist tradition, Steve Reich, and John Adams, it was Samuel Barber’s String Quartet opus 11 in B Minor which opened the recital. The ensemble, which featured violinists Robert McFall and Cyril Garac and Su-a Lee (cello) were impressive throughout, but the pathos was particularly during the slow second movement, which has featured in any number of films, and will be familiar to many through cultural osmosis, rather than a particular experience.
Three pieces from John Adam’s suite Alleged Dances featured, with the almost pop sensibility of She’s So Fine, Toot Nipple, and Habenera being particularly fine examples. Habenera, which opened the second half of the concert, featured a visual backdrop provided by Luxmuralis, it’s almost kaleidoscopic style adding an extra depth to the piece, which was fully realised during the concert’s final piece, Steve Reich’s Different Trains. Inspired by Reich’s childhood trips between his parents in 1930’s America, it also looked at the trains that operated throughout Europe at the same time, using a soundtrack of interviews, recorded train and rail sounds, as well as interviews, and different voices interpolated around and inside the music. Although musically Different Trains is not the most difficult piece, it is the added poignancy of the interviews, and sounds, and the stories that inspired the piece that make it so powerful.
A piece by Ennio Morricone, Deborah’s Theme, from Once Upon a Time In America served as a finely chosen encore.