Contemporary music’s equivalent of a Heston Blumenthal tasting plate.

Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House

July 8, 204

Variety is the spice of life, in art as in food, and if you were looking for the musical equivalent of dining out a la Heston Blumenthal, the dynamic Sydney-based Ensemble Offspring provided just such an experience last Tuesday night. Not that it was easy listening – this was edgy music that repaid putting in the hard listening yards – but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to liken Claire Edwardes playing a selection of builders tiles to a plate of Heston’s snail porridge, so I’m going with the metaphor for now.

The theme behind the program was composers who deconstruct and reconstruct the sounds we’ve come to expect from different instruments and their combinations. “Unashamedly adventurous”, was what we were offered, and unashamedly adventurous that was what we got, all served up in around an hour.

Xenakis opened and closed the evening. First, his Charismafrom 1971 – a tough listen comprising a great deal of sawing on cello (Judith Hamann, outstanding throughout) and some overblowing and other effects on clarinet (the versatile Jason Noble). An elusive piece, it was for me the night’s least...