EDitorial ± 23-Sep-2011

Michael Nyman, The Spa, Felixstowe

Idly browsing online, I saw a jarring combination of two proper nouns: first was Michael Nyman, second was Felixstowe. Like a Tex Avery character, I shook my head and re-read the announcement:

Pacitti Company presents the World Premiere of On Landguard Point
— Composed by Michael Nyman
— Performed by Michael Nyman & The Michael Nyman Band with soprano Marie Angel
The Spa Pavillion, Felixstowe, Suffolk, Friday 23 September

The great Greenaway collaborator at The 'Stowe? Crazy! That'd be like seeing Philip Glass in Norwich. Have to admit that I had to double-check that this was the man himself and not some sort of avant-garde tribute act, more in keeping with The Spa's more usual fare.

Down the A12 we drove, parked up, and walked in to take our seats. Immediately clear that, although a good crowd, it wasn't a sell-out (shame), and that the event had attracted what Neal Stephenson might call Persons of Quality. House lights dimmed, on came the musicians, followed a minute later by a diminutive fella in big specs. He bowed to very generous applause, took his seat at the piano, and off we went. Whoosh!

Those boys and girls in the band can't half play. It's highly technical stuff and must be a devil to perform. Sound is hard to describe but carries you away, similar to being in the crowd for Philip Glass. There's barely a moment between each piece, no time to breathe, and Mr Nyman doesn't say a word, merely acknowledging the clapping. I guess that's fine for both parties.

First half is a selection of his filmic bits, while second half is the actual premiere of the specially written piece for On Landguard Point. For this, enter Marie Angel, the soprano lady in red, who adds further to the immensity of the performance. Didn't catch much of the libretto but what a noise. Huge tip of the hat to the Landguard Point folks for putting this on.