Edinburgh Contemporary Music Ensemble

“With James Lowe as its admirable conductor, the Edinburgh Contemporary Music Ensemble – in reality an orchestra of more than 40 players, with a wide range of instruments at its disposal – is going to be one of Scotland’s musical assets. Sunday’s concert, its third, offered an impressive sample of its wares, some written specially for the occasion and most with Nigel Osborne, Edinburgh University’s distinguished proponent of expressionist modernism, as their mentor.

Six young composers, Greek and Italian as well as English and Scottish, were represented by works that had broken free of the more static aspects of contemporary music to concentrate on things more mobile. This was music that was going somewhere, and it drew a large, attentive young audience.

Vassilis Kitsos’s elegiac Chamber Symphony offered four richly-unfolded movements of death and transfiguration. Martin Parker’s Steinmetzarbeiten was denser in texture, a study in stonework inspired by a set of drawings viewed, intensifyingly, from a distance and in close-up. Suzanne Parry’s Views Through Glass emerged as a cello rhapsody, eloquently played by Clea Friend, through whose tone the orchestra cut its way. Stuart Taylor’s Essay for Strings brimmed with an almost Elgarian energy.

Jake Spence’s Five Chorales, each coloured by a different instrument, were gentle tone paintings. Alfredo Caponnetto’s Konzertstuck, played by Angelo Aliberti, was a potent, sardonic, finally explosive vehicle for lidless piano, its innards accessible to the big hammers wielded by the soloist. Each piece had something to say – a good omen, surely, for whatever comes next.”

Conrad Wilson, The Herald