SE Inversion – Travelling against time
The Scottish Ensembles latest show starts with 1960s modern classical music and works back to Bach
Moving back in time is something more usually found in the world of science fiction than classical music performances. Putting its audience into a time machine where the concert hall takes on the role of tardis for the night, the Scottish Ensemble present Travelling against time, a back-to-front programme that starts in the late 1960s and goes back almost 300 years to the time of Bach. The Scottish Ensemble, with its artistic director Jonathan Morton, is becoming increasingly well known for the new perspectives it offers on music, and Morton’s latest programme looks like one of the best yet.
‘We’re again playing around with when a piece was written and how relevant that is,’ says Morton. ‘This programme is more directional than previously in that it’s going backwards. Indirectly, it’s tackling a big question in the classical music industry. Are we performing museum music if we play repertoire which was written hundreds of years ago?’
While Morton sees where this question is coming from, the answer for him is a resounding no. ‘Although we are going back in time, we may not actually be aware of things getting older and older. Bach sounds completely relevant and not some old thing written centuries ago.’
For SE Inversion, the Ensemble starts with Ligeti. ‘Even almost 50 years after this was written, Ramifications is still an extreme, radical soundscape,’ says Morton. ‘It is, though, the most museum piece we’re playing, as it’s of its own time.’ The programme then winds back in time via Webern, Debussy – ‘the turning point of modernity’, says Morton – then Bruckner and Mendelssohn before settling on Bach’s popular E major violin concerto. ‘Really,’ he says, ‘the idea is that the further we go back in time, the less we’ll actually feel that we’re going back in time.’
Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Fri 20 Apr; St Andrew’s in the Square, Glasgow, Sat 21 Apr.