The Independent, 4 September 2007
It was almost cosy. Both Nicholas Daniel and Dame Evelyn Glennie are prominent players of Thea Musgrave’s concertos, and the composer has been a Proms regular for nearly half a century. Now here came another BBC commission, Two’s Company, a double concerto for oboe and percussion that she wrote specifically for these two
Musgrave’s take on concert music has often been theatrical, and mobile performers were again a feature. Glennie began half- hidden behind chimes, bells and gongs at the back of the cellos, looking like Trilok Gurtu at the start of one of his improvisations. Daniel appeared from the stalls opposite, and moved hesitantly towards the orchestra in response to plaintive calls from the woodwind.
The music then proceeded as a choreographed flirtation. As Daniel came into sight, Glennie ran away to another island of percussion at the rear. When he got too close, she moved to more aggressive instruments and drove him back. Finally, a melting lyrical line lured her to join him near the conductor, where a marimba awaited, and the music emerged from its anxious, restless state into a vigorous fandango.
Far from being imposed on the piece, this little drama was the outward expression of what was going on within the music. Musgrave’s writhing counterpoints, with their restless, post-Debussy harmonic flavour, reached several crises that articulated the 25-minute span. Players from the orchestra stood up from time to time and engaged in secondary conversations. The whole work, scored with delicacy and grace, swept forward with a gathering momentum, and the total experience was captivating.