TCDMCCLUCILIN at the National Concert Hall, Monday 17th February.

In the intimate surroundings of the Kevin Barry Room at the National Concert Hall, Trinity College Dublin present their artists in residence, Lucilin, for a public concert. The Luxembourgish ensemble’s programme shows their commitment to showcasing unusual chamber contemporary music, from Japanese Hosokawa to Polish Penderecki.

Beginning with the full quartet, Betsy Jolas’ Quartuor VI avec clarinet is an ethereal exploration of the instrument combination. It moves through shifting, subtle harmonies with Marcel Lallemang‘s clarinet frequently pushing momentum forwards. The fractured, disenchanted music expands towards its close into an area of greater richness and the musicians respond –  energy filling the room, giving a sense of oneness between performers and audience.

Building on this oneness, Tomoko Kiba on violin and Christophe Beau on cello launch into Toshio Hosokawa’s Duo for Violin and Cello with a brilliantly electric shared energy. The aching music tells of the ability for two musicians – two people – to be so close yet emanate such solitude. Their dynamic performance tells of a shared loneliness, unrestricted, told through both instrumental dissonance and fervent body language.

The final trio from Wolfgang Rihm’s Musik fur drei Streicher sees Danielle Hennicot join Kiba and Beau with her viola. The piece is an immediate change: pulsating and sensual after the cold disharmony of Hosokawa. More tonal progressions are evident as the piece becomes increasingly driving and violent. For a moment, the music seems almost like a reference to Apocolyptica’s music – perhaps Metallica were Rihm fans?

Penderecki’s Quartett for clarinet and string trio brings the performance to a close with a somewhat more accessible atmosphere. At times roaring, jumping and warring, all four performers give a strong, dark exchange. Foot-tapping gives away the subtlety of the music, though there are moments of real beauty including a haunting exchange between clarinet and violin. Pizzicato notes in the cello finish the concert with a sense of lingering hope.

Though there is very little visible communication between the ensemble, all members are obviously part of a shared psyche, reaching a sound world and inviting the audience to join. Though the programme requires an open mind, and ear, for those who can enjoy the at-times harsh quality of this experiment in collective loneliness it is a most enjoyable night. Lucilin are clearly an extremely welcome addition to the Trinity music faculty, and we shall enjoy seeing their influence on the students.