Review Bag of Bones, Manchester Collective, Purcell Room, Southbank Centre by James Ellis 

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

The Manchester Collective are doing the rounds in the UK and their work looks really enticing and intriguing. I’m open to the accessible method of getting people into to hearing classical and experimental music, alongside everything in-between.

Alice Zawadzki’s Bag of Bones is a heavily inspired, Polish incantation of life, loss, love and joy. Had a feel of Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, women seen through the ages, recant their stories, their rites and lamentations. As a whole, the piece worked well, other musical selections were spliced in-between her work. This was somewhere between opera, folk, performance art and musical and it had charm and touching bits too. Alice has an airy voice, touching and robust. 

Speaking of Górecki, these players did a very find job with his Allegro from his String Quartet No. 2. It had a crisp, resplendent vitality to you, like with most of the late composer’s canon. The folk elements of southern Poland are there and the feel of the forest and woods breathes here. It was just all so lovely. David Lang’s Mystery Sonata No. 1 entitled Joy, commenced the evening, though he usually has more emotional weight this remained ethereal if sparse, as if it was not even there. 

Simón Días’s Tonada de luna llena and Andrea Tarrodi with Mirrors remained as highlights, the quartet really proving both side of the coin of traditional and experimental here. They really do excel with all the picks here. Hats off also to the pianinst Bruni Heinen and accordion/synthesiser Charles Kieny. The instrumentalists even got to have a little sing with the South American traditional Que Florezca La Luz, embracing the lord and the state of being in love.     

These choices to go with Bag of Bones were a nice touch and this could work with future work. Even grander style opera-like pieces could go down well, the wall of accessibility being broken thanks to marketing and interesting venue choices around these chores. 

I’m down to see future work in Cardiff and Bristol.  

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