Written by Michael Tumelty
Published on Monday 14 March 2016
If there is such a species as the concert with everything, then this project, designed by Morton, was as close in aspiration as can be imagined; moreover, the playing by this indivisible group of 12 collaborators, joined for the afternoon by the extraordinarily open-hearted pianist Gabriela Montero, left this listener stilled into a hush of immense satisfaction.
In the repertoire, it was wall-to-wall miracles of creativity, from the intensity of Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue to the calm certainty of Bach’s six-part Ricercar, brilliantly introduced by Morton, and where I could sense my neighbours listening enthralled as six individual streams of contrapuntal ingenuity flowed and melded seamlessly.
But there was also heat, passion and a steamy sensuality throbbing through the ensemble’s playing of music by Piazzolla and Golijov, offset by the beauty of Villa-Lobos’s Aria and the classicism of Mozart’s K449 Piano Concerto, played by Montero with red-blooded engagement in a bracing string-accompanied version not suitable for vegans.
And then Montero called on the audience for a tune to be sung out, on which she could improvise. She got a partial version of Gershwin’s It Ain’t Necessarily So, which she took for a ten-minute stylistic tour through Bach, Chopin and an amalgam of stride piano and ragtime. I have seldom been quite so gobsmacked and left with stars in my eyes.