Review: Sensation / Julian Anderson / Ben Smith / Borough New Music

When the music is contemporary there’s a reduced likelihood of recordings available to refresh the memory after a performance.

Julian Anderson’s suite for solo piano performed by Ben Smith yesterday at St George the Martyr in Borough, is a case in point.

The opportunity which emerges therefore makes for an entirely refreshing writing experience – one based on memory alone.

We may well approach the modern or unfamiliar with trepidation, but Anderson’s music is surprisingly accessible and Sensation, as the title of the suite suggests, is an illustration of the composer’s intent. The demands placed on the pianist are considerable, but the effects on the listener are electrifying, the bravura sequences in the fifth movement especially so.

All credit to composer and pianist Ben Smith who performed the work, originally composed for Pierre-Laurent Aimard and premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival last year.

This was a glorious celebration of sound performed by a musician who revelled in the tonalities and harmonics created by a robust and defiant instrument. The depiction of ‘near chaos’ in the second movement Sight Lines was a particular favourite.

Borough New Music concerts are staged every Tuesday lunchtime (not during December) and admission is free.

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