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Press/Latest Reviews / Nov 2018
Angus McPherson
[On Gumboots]

Between the two string quintets, clarinettist Georgina Oakes joined Chen, Nakamura, Thompson and Stender for British composer David Bruce’s delightful 2008 work Gumboots for clarinet and string quartet The opening was magical – the high register of Oakes’ bass clarinet fused with Thompson’s viola to create an exquisite, glowing texture, the pair drifting apart only in their Blues-inflected ornamentation, before the sound unfurled to encompass the other musicians. While Bruce is careful to point out in his program note that this piece is not “about” the gumboot dancers of South Africa – the dance tradition, rooted in the horrendous conditions forced upon black gold miners – it certainly inspired the work, which celebrates “the rejuvenating power of dance”. The reflective opening movement, which saw clarinet crying over strings, viola sliding and the cello’s upper register luminous, found at one point a more rhythmic motion, but it wasn’t until the second movement – a suite of five short pieces – that the music really began to dance. Oakes’ gave a lively, cheerful performance, the folky first dance giving way to a quirky second, before a visceral Gershwin-slide from the clarinet opened the third. The fourth dance’s clarinet filigree, deftly negotiated by Oakes, gave way to bouncing energy and joyous trilling in the finale. A pleasure.

Telegraph / Jul 2018

Still, there were some highlights. New piece Sidechaining by composer David Bruce....a piece that combined neoclassical wit with the huge energy of a tarantella. / Jul 2018
Jon Jacob

David Bruce's Sidechaining made for an exhilarating listen.

The Independent / Jul 2018
Michael Church

David Bruce's Sidechaining may have been conceived as a technical exercise in layering and hocketing, but it had the assurance of a new-minted classic. / Jul 2018
Simon Cummings

" ..[a] robust and mature demonstration of orchestral playfulness. The work is essentially a quadruple concerto, the solo roles featuring Young Musician alumni Michael Collins (clarinet), Nicholas Daniel (oboe), Jennifer Pike (violin) and Ben Goldscheider (horn). Beginning with a nicely weird melodic idea, where each note swells, punctuated by brass and timpani flourishes, Bruce guides the music through a series of episodes that provide opportunities for each soloist to do their stuff. Initially it’s all a bit of romp - clarinet and oboe firing off notes at breakneck velocity - though this is countered with shifts into more leisurely and toned-down territory. Particularly noteworthy is the highly lyrical sequence that emerges a few minutes in, appearing from nowhere but managing not to derail the work's onward sense of momentum, one of a number of such instances where the music successfully negotiates quite extreme gear changes.

It's great when obviously playful music doesn't feel the need to sacrifice compositional rigour in order to make concessions to expectation, and Sidechaining's conclusion is a good example of this, Bruce appearing to set up an obvious galloping climax, only to redirect it with a return of that strange opening melody, and then interrupt it entirely with another unexpected burst of slow lyricism, leading to a relatively delicate chirping conclusion featuring only the soloists. Very nice.

Canberra Times / Apr 2018
Jennifer Gall
[On Cymbeline]

For me the highlight of the evening was David Bruce's Cymbeline for mandolin and string quartet, composed in 2013. His cleverly constructed first movement, Sunrise, established the separation of instrument registers and created spacious sonorities. Bruce's music tells us immediately that he understands the value of every instrumental voice for whom he is writing. He is a master of rhythmic patterning and builds dramatic tension by throwing rhythmic hooks to catch our imagination and snare our expectations. / Apr 2018
Christopher Wainwright
[On Cymbeline]

A work which stunningly captures the sound and energies of dawn, noon and dusk

Limelight Magazine / Apr 2018
Angus McPherson
[On Cymbeline]

The final work on this program with the Giocoso Quartet, David Bruce's 2013 Cymbeline - the name a Celtic word meaning Lord of the Sun - explored similar heat-haze textures to those of Vivaldi's Summer. Across three movements that charted the sun's course from Sunrise to Noon and finally Sunset, the music emerges out of the silence with a mandolin tremolo. Bruce's work was shot through with pizzicato grooves from the cello, a harder-edged hoedown energy under the noonday sun, while the sunset of the finale was more wistful than meditative, the music receding once more into a fade-out

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