Music review: Michael Nyman Band

Michael Nyman and band were raucous but never exaggerated. Picture: Getty

Michael Nyman and band were raucous but never exaggerated. Picture: Getty

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WITH the composer himself directing proceedings – hammering away with characteristic abandon at the piano – you couldn’t have asked for more authentic performances.

Michael Nyman Band - Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

*****

The Michael Nyman Band musicians played with breathtaking energy and enthusiasm (not to mention stamina), as if the music was running through their veins – and after several years together performing Nyman’s joyfully raucous pieces, it probably is. All that, plus a standing ovation from the appreciative Nyman fans and a couple of (properly) impromptu encores. If that doesn’t deserve five stars, there’s not much that does.

Everything in Nyman’s unmistakable music that the fans were expecting – the propulsive basslines, the manic violin tremolos (dispatched with glee by Christophe Clad), the roaring, parping brass and saxes – was there in generous quantities, but it was never over-exaggerated for empty effect. In fact, experiencing Nyman’s music live served to dismantle his blaring wall of sound into its individual instrumental parts, highlighting the lyricism and sheer inventiveness of his creations.

The only thing missing was any indication as to what they were actually playing – with no programme and no on-stage announcements, all but the most devout fans were left somewhat in the dark. As it happened, the mix of music from Nyman’s Greenaway film scores and more recent concert pieces – the intricate, Reichian The Musicologist Scores ending the first half stylishly – proved an ideal balance. And Nyman’s glowingly lyrical Water Dances, played with affection and surprising restraint, brought the evening to a touchingly radiant close.

Seen on 23.04.14

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