The Manchester Collective, Lakeside, Nottingham, 5*****: by William Ruff



The Manchester Collective


November 21 2019


Lakeside, Nottingham




Review: William Ruff



An innovative programme which quickened the pulse and refreshed the spirit.


The Manchester Collective clearly like to live dangerously.  At Lakeside on Thursday they performed the musical equivalent of a high-wire act without a safety net.  The results were thrilling.

Their spokesman sounded remarkably calm as he confessed that the group of twelve string players had never actually played through the whole of the first half of their programme before.  So if it all sounded edgy (and it sure did) we can be grateful that they didn’t rehearse it to death.

And the idea behind it all sounded outrageous.  Surely playing the outer movements of Vivaldi’s Summer and Winter concertos separated by sections from Ligeti’s rollercoaster Métamorphoses Nocturnes (with its nearly unplayable tempi, dynamics and techniques) was going to result in a car crash?  Well, the fact that it nearly did (but very definitely didn’t) was a major part of the fun. The extreme modernism of Ligeti was contagious and infected their playing of Vivaldi as bows bit into strings with such wild exhilaration that you could see the rosin flying.

In the second half the format was more conservative: two works played one after the other.  However, the fact that The Manchester Collective had commissioned exciting young composer Edmund Finnis to write a new work for them ensured that the audience still had to expect the unexpected.  The Centre is Everywhere creates an extraordinary sound world in which notes seem to glow and pulsate, creating magical, translucent effects.  It ingeniously explores the instruments’ whole range of sound – not only musical notes but the space around them – in ways which are almost tactile.

And this led to the final piece: Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen, a piece which its composer wrote as an elegy for the treasures of German culture destroyed by Nazi evil.  The Manchester Collective responded eloquently not only to its profound grief but also to its ecstatic heights.  Whether creating an atmosphere of tentative beauty or when playing at their most full-blooded their playing here and throughout their innovative programme had a rapturous quality which quickened the pulse and refreshed the spirit.



The Manchester Collective

ReviewsGate Copyright Protection