Classical review: Wave Movements, Edinburgh

Wave Movements was accompanied by images of the sea. Picture: Eoin Carey
Wave Movements was accompanied by images of the sea. Picture: Eoin Carey
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The evening after they appeared in this venue as part of more traditional band arrangements for Alexi Murdoch and Mini Tindle, Bryce Dessner and Richard Reed Perry (respectively, members of rock groups The National and Arcade Fire) demonstrated the other side of their muse with a selection of classical works, played by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and conducted by Gerry Cornelius.

The first and longest was also the most satisfying; co-composed by the pair, Wave Movements is an experimental symphonic piece backed by a slow-moving film of the Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto’s images of the sea from the 1980s.

It was stirring and effective, both as an evocation of the movement of the sea and a minimalist work of elemental drama. Massed strings were drawn rhythmically across bows in slow surges, a beater trembled ominously against a gong, and violins shrieked back and forth like seagulls. Then a shaft of light hit the metal sea and hopeful, sweeping strings emerged from this thoroughly evocative and involving piece. Alongside it stood Parry’s Interruptions I-VII (Heart and Breath Nonet) and Dessner’s Murder Ballades, both made for smaller ensembles, with the composers joining in on Parry’s work; each was satisfying, but somewhat anticlimactic after such a grand opening.