City Halls, Glasgow
What a pity we don't hear Richard Ayres in the UK more often. Since moving to the Netherlands in the late 80s – he went to study with Louis Andriessen and ended up staying – he has made his musical home on the continent, but remains one of our most imaginative and compassionate composers. His scores are wacky but easy to relate to, full of beautiful, fantastical colours that skew material we're generally familiar with in ways we're generally not. Ilan Volkov and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra were spot on with the warmth and pizazz they bestowed here.
The concert was recorded for Radio 3's Hear and Now, and should make for an intriguing broadcast. In No 36, a "NONcerto" for horn and orchestra, the soloist spent his time running between symbolic mountain peaks at far ends of the stage. It can't be easy to play the horn mid-jog but Saar Berger hurtled about with an athlete's stamina. No 9 (Ayres uses numbers for titles to avoid influencing listeners' perception with words) is a tribute to The Pogues' Shane MacGowan. It's raucous, joyous and mystical, and couldn't have had feistier exponents than piper Fraser Fifield, harpist Catriona McKay and violinist Greg Lawson. No 46 for full orchestra was inspired by Robert Walser and opens with the tapping of a solo typewriter; the subsequent non-sequiturs – think off-kilter balletic Stravinsky meets John Williams – make a kaleidoscopic cacophony, though the piece might need some structuring if Ayres extends it as planned. Also on the programme were Laurence Crane's West Sussex Folk Material, which struck gentle poses in shifting primary colours, and Marko Nikodijevic's GHB/Tanzaggregat, which scored novelty points due to the fact it is orchestral music that deals with drugs and techno culture. However, when it comes to canny sampling, Ayres does so much more with none of the showboating.
"Maintenance is a breeze. I am so happy that we chose InstantEncore!"