The Prickle (@ThePrickle) April 26, 2019
Héloïse Werner’s solo vocal composition (with words by Octavia Bright), The Other Side Of The Sea, offers the audience a glimpse into the strangeness of being bilingual: being able to “perform” in another language, while worrying about accessing “truth”. Werner’s voice is wonderfully assured on this frenetic journey across languages and musical styles. In addition to singing, Werner also plays cello and percussion.
The staging (Emily Burns) is integral, set against a splintered wooden circle (Jessie Rodger, Brett Cox) onto which shine projections (Jessie Rodger) of oceans, fields, and childhood photos. Werner’s command of the stage and communion with the audience makes the piece feel more like a piece of theatre than a piece of music — absolutely absorbing.
The Hermes Experiment dabble in and out of the tonal and the truly avant-garde. Their new work sees all four members of the quartet sidle up to the double bass, flicking, scratching, and sawing at it, half at worship, half in competition — a mesmerising piece. The score for Mira Calix’s Instagram-inspired DMe features bars of colours and emojis, interpreted amazingly by the quartet, with the audience eagerly responding to its humorous side.
This contrasted hugely with the tonal, sunny Double Fiesta by Meredith Monk, and Freya Waley-Cohen’s brief atonal song cycle We Phoenician Sailors (words by Octavia Bright), which opened the programme, both showing how amazingly versatile the combination of soprano (Héloïse Werner), clarinet (Oliver Pashley), harp (Anne Denholm) and double bass (Marianne Schofield) works. Avant-garde at its absolute best.