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December 19, 2013 5:43 pm
When artist Maria Rud presented her first AniMotion Show in St Giles’ Cathedral two years ago, her captivating images, painted in real time to live music, were projected on to a screen. Now, advances in technology, and an inspired collaboration with Panasonic and projection artist Ross Ashton, have enabled the Russian-born artist to paint on an even larger canvas: the cathedral itself. In this instance, the entire 40 feet or so of the east transept created a surreal dimension, adding texture and sparkle to her projected images as the cathedral’s walls and stained glass occasionally bled through.
Rud, whose mother was a composer, has a natural affinity with music, evidenced in the fluid execution of her paintings and choice of musical collaborators. The synergy between Rud and percussionist Evelyn Glennie is especially potent. In Vincent Ho’s Nostalgia, Rud imitated the ethereal vibraphone shimmers with squiggly upward brushstrokes that became houses, figures on horseback and otherworldly faces. And in Askell Masson’s Prim, to Glennie’s crisp staccato snare drum rolls and volleys she conjured images of a strutting cockerel and finally a crusader knight.
However, it was the improvisation between Glennie – who coaxed a beguiling soundscape from an array of exotic instruments – and David Heath on wooden and bass flutes, that produced the most intense collaboration with Rud. Musical ideas flashed like quicksilver between them in this highly charged, virtuosic performance. It veered from Glennie’s rock star turn on the drum kit to a mesmeric, almost shamanistic passage, as Heath’s growling bass flute buffeted the eerie sighing from a whirly tube twirled by Glennie above her head. This was mirrored in elegant sabre-waving figures that emerged from Rud’s constantly evolving paintings. Using colours that took on the luminosity of stained glass, Rud dabbed, smudged and carved out of the paint to make and remake her totemic images and symbols.
The Scottish premiere of the three-part Dark Matter united the talents of Heath, DJ/producer Dolphin Boy and vocalist Fay Fife from new wave band The Rezillos. Starting with Heath’s haunting improvisation of Debussy’s Syrinx on wooden flute, tranquil water sounds from Dolphin Boy segued neatly into his composition with Fife, Sound of Sleat, her full-bodied voice seemingly floating on air. In Dark Matter, Fife’s eastern European-tinged vocals blended beautifully with Heath’s breathy bass flute overtones and Dolphin Boy’s evocative sound mix. Meanwhile Rud depicted the musical narrative in great swathes of water and a man with a fish on his head.
Gavin Bryars’ Laude also received its Scottish premiere from soprano Rebecca Tavener. Based on 13th-century Italian texts, the work’s filigree lines are so authentic, only the occasional foray into microtonality distinguished Laude from the 12th-century masterpieces by Hildegard of Bingen that also featured.
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