Prom 56: Staatskapelle Dresden/ Luisi, Royal Albert Hall, London
The venerable Staatskapelle Dresden arrived at the Proms proudly bearing the excess luggage of Strauss’ Alpine Symphony – a piece dedicated expressly to them.
But the first sounds they produced emanated from somewhere far deeper than the foothills of that particular mountain range.
Rebecca Saunders’ traces begins in the lowest reaches of string basses with a series of glissandi suggesting seismic movement or even perhaps primitive words. The meaning of these resonances and explosive grunts is unclear but as the drones and pulses (from antiphonal percussion) grow more animated and light-catching high strings are introduced into the texture it is clear that this is essentially sculptural music built of earthly matter. We hear it as we might see it – a kind of musical Richard Serra. Saunders claims to allude more to words – not least the austerity of Samuel Beckett. But she would do well to learn from his wit.