CLASSICAL Katia and Marielle
Labeque Glasgow: Royal Concert Hall, Thu 18 May. Musical families are a funny thing. So much talent floating around in the one gene pool can either lead to melodic harmony or bitter sibling rivalry. Stepping up to the keys at the tender ages of three and five, French piano duo Katia and Marielle Labeque have lived in each others pockets ever since, so it's a good job they get on: ‘We're basically like best friends, at times you would never know we were sisters,’ explains Katia from her hotel in Barcelona. ‘We had to leave home when we were eleven and thirteen to go to Paris to study, so there was no space for competition; it was the opposite, we really tried to support and encourage each other.‘
A seamless itinerary of tours and recordings have continued ever since, taking the sisters around the world and into the studios of such diverse artistes as Sting, Herbie Hancock, Pavarotti and countless classical and baroque orchestras. Currently on tour with the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra. the Labeques are once again keeping it in the family - older sister Marielle recently married the orchestra's conductor Semyon Bychkov. ’lt’s very difficult to have this kind of life and to have a relationship,’ explains Katia, whose long-term pairing with jazz maestro John
McLaughlin fell foul to the rigours of touring. 'Marielle is of course tied with Semyon, but luckily we can sometimes play with him which is ideal'.
Their Glasgow concert sees them performing Mendelssohn's Concerto For Two Pianos, a composition almost two centuries old, but one which Katia feels still has much to offer: ‘I think all music should be
'In our ears today we have not only Stravinsky and Beethoven and Chopin, but also Skunk Anansie, Radiohead; the music has to be alive'
performed with a sense of modernity. We are not the keepers of a prisoner, the music has to be alive. In our ears today we have not only Stravinsky and Beethoven and Chopin, but also Skunk Anansie, Radiohead and all those people, it's very, very different. if all classical music could be played with this kind of attitude, it would have so much more power.’ (Kelly Apter)
Glas ow Cathedral, Thu 25 May; Grey?riars Kirk, Edinburgh, Sun 28 May.
Almost a year on and the celebrations for Scotland’s new parliament are still going strong. At least, in Cappella Nova’s season they are. Looking back to more turbulent times when wars and battles, treaties and truces were the stuff of the Scottish Parliament’s question time, the choir’s programme of Music for Robert The Bruce is inspired by music he would almost
; certainly have heard.
FOLK/WORLD Shooglenifty Edinburgh: The Liquid Room, Tue 23
May; Glasgow: The Temple, Thu 25 May.
February 1992 saw the birth of a contemporary Scottish institution, a band that's unique, but still better known in Borneo than Bearsden. Joining ashes of the late, lamented Swamptrash to the driving fiddle, mandolin and percussion of Scots folk underground outfit Miro, Shooglenifty emerged from Edinburgh's burgeoning session scene when, according to banjax (electrically enhanced banjo)
so THE usr 11—25 May 2000
Joan Armatrading is a big Broons and Oor Wullie fan and she actually collects the
player Gary Finlayson, two things happened. it was the night when, instead of the big jam round their regular table in Edinburgh's La Belle Angele, 'we played through the house PA system and we did it standing up’. Word soon got round that a great band was supplying late night celtic grooves for dancing, and the global party started.
A success anywhere in the world, and they’ve played most of it, the boys recently returned from Cuba, South Africa's WOMAD, where their worldly, acoustic and very contemporary take on a base of Scots tradition crosses all ethnic divides. Finlayson remembers a
Soweto workshop. ’lt was to a dance group full of eleven to eighteen—year- olds. Their musicians and drummers were so good, very open to ideas and quick to pick up on what were doing; we all ended up with this fantastic 'Strip The Willow' in a big mixed groove.’
While up against headliners like Joan Armatrading and Joi at WOMAD, the Shoogles, as they do everywhere, went down a storm, shifting more CDs than anyone; and that’s WOMAD’s own sales figures.
Of the aforementioned Ms Armatrading, mandolinist lain MacLeod enigmatically offers a surprising Celtic connection ’She’s a closet Scot,’ he insists, ’A big Broons and Oor Wullie fan. She actually collects the annuals,’ Ask him yourself
when the band previews their new '
Sonic Shears album With a few gigs on home turf. Drummer James Maclntosh feels the imminent album is more experimental than the last one. 'lt's still very dancey, but we’re using samples, building up loops of percussion, triggering sequences and playing on top; it’s more sonically challenging,’ (Norman Chalmers)
It comes from three different sources, the framework being the St Andrews Music Book, some of which will be receiving its first performance in modern times. ’We’ve spent a long time in putting the programme together,’ says Rebecca Tavener, co- artistic director of the choir. ’lt follows what we know of Bruce's career and with extracts read from epic poetry about Bruce, it will be a sort of medieval stylised drama.’ The poetry has been translated from medieval Scots into English and is highly successful in bringing Bruce's life to vivid colour. 'It really lets his character shine through,’ says Tavener, ’not only about Bannockburn, but nebulous subjects, such as freedom and valour.’
As the earliest date referring to the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France would appear to be 1295, twenty years after Bruce’s birth, the programme also has a French connection. ’Roman de Fauvel is a 13th century French drama about an ass. It’s a satire on the rise to fame,’ explains Tavener, ’which was reworked around the time of Bannockburn. And the St Andrews Music Book itself is Franco-Scottish, the French input probably being from a bishop who brought over his favourite music from Notre Dame.’
Instrumental music of the period is played on a variety of harps by William Taylor who performs on wire strung clarsach, as well as gut string harp, as it was certainly heard across Europe and the abbeys of Scotland.
And does the spider make an appearance? ’Well, maybe accidentally, because the historical venues we’re using are bound to have some,’ says Rebecca Tavener. ’We wouldn't mind if it did.’ (Carol Main)
Bringing Robert the Bruce's life to vivid colour