Music review: Colin Currie & the Scottish Ensemble, Cumnock Town Hall

Colin Currie PIC: Marco Borggreve
Colin Currie PIC: Marco Borggreve
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IT’S good to get the audience involved and that’s exactly what Jonathan Morton, director of the Scottish Ensemble, did in this opening concert of the 4th annual Cumnock Tryst Festival. “There’s a “C” that drones all the way through Purcell’s quirky Fantasia on One Note”, he told us. “Do hum along.” The capacity crowd obliged, embracing it like a ritualistic Zen moment. It was part of an intended uninterrupted sequence of short pieces filling the majority of the first half: a cocktail of Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Debussy, Tippett, Purcell and Fauré, rolled out like a random iPod shuffle, which could have done with fewer hiatuses between works to have fully achieved the desired effect.

There was plenty sparkle in the Ensemble’s individual performances, from the stabbing venom of Stravinsky Quartet movements to the gallus swagger of Debussy’s Golliwog’s Cakewalk and the parlour charm of Fauré’s Berceuse. But the star of the evening was percussionist Colin Currie, who had already made a background appearance as timpanist in the Ensemble’s opener, an engaging, if strangely mannered, account of Mozart’s Serenata Notturna.

His real mission was to premiere Dave Maric’s tribute to both men’s long standing friendship, We Made Us, commissioned jointly by the Ensemble and Cumnock Tryst, and comprising six character movements for solo percussion, piano (played by Maric), electronics and string orchestra.

It’s a feisty piece, driven by Maric’s signature jazz style, the pulverising shadow of Steve Martland and the odd dance hall groove. The electronics are of an age. Currie’s performance rocked.