Replaceable Things (4 stars)

Brilliant contemporary classical music from Ensemble Thing at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Replaceable Things

Ensemble Thing's contemporary classical is a challenging but thought provoking start to a day of Fringing. Starting as a four-piece – Laim Lynch on violin, Emily Walker on cello, Elizabeth Stirrat on accordion and Jennifer Stephenson on clarinet – they open with the sparse minimal piece 'Circuit Breakers' from Thomas Butler's ‘Replacable Parts for the Irreplaceable You’. It’s a modern composition of ticking electronic glitches, accompanied by strident explosions of noise from the quartet. Stunningly original and very modern, there's still room for humour as the musicians wait dejectedly on hold, trapped in an automated phone system during 'Compatibility Issues'. It all builds to an ominous end on 'Instructions for Curing a Human Heart', befitting Butler's theme of 'a world inundated and overrun with new technology'.

With the inclusion of Rui Pedro de Oliveira Alves on trombone they expand to a quintet for the second half of the programme, John de Simone's ‘Panic Diary’. This is an even more personal piece based on the composer's 'daily diary of my mood levels and emotions' which he completed as part of his treatment for anxiety and panic disorder. De Simone also gives a short spoken introduction to each piece, making his music connect on an even deeper level. Spanning the emotional range from sadness through anxiety and alienation, the music perfectly matches the mood. Soprano Claire Thompson joins the ensemble for one track, her vocals cutting through every note. ‘Panic Diary’ is as starkly beautiful as it is melancholy.

Summerhall, run now ended.

John De Simone and Thomas Butler : Replaceable Things

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