Cuillin Sound are back at Eden Court. At first glance, it would seem odd that a woodwind trio (comprising Dana Morgan on flute, Sarah Watts on clarinets and Laurence Perkins on bassoon) would not feature in the theatre programme’s music section. At second glance though, this is not at all odd: it earns its place in the special events section because it is not just a performance by extremely competent and often excellent musicians. It pitches music alongside photography, film, even poetry, and the result is special.
There were small-scale gripes: the stage set-up did not take into account the sightlines of those at the extremities of the stalls, for example. The central screen was clearly visible from everywhere, but the musicians were positioned in such a way that full view was masked. During the first piece, the clarinettist stood in front of the other two performers, and turned her back to much of the audience as she played.
However, Sarah Watts was soon forgiven when she performed an outstanding solo on the bass clarinet, composed by herself, and interspersed with clear, melodic readings of Sorley MacLean’s poetry. The raw clarinet chords resonated alongside soaring melodies, reflecting both the beauty of the Raasay landscape as well as the horror of the Clearances and the threat of nuclear warfare. It felt as if music and spoken word, read beautifully by Laurence Perkins, each reach different parts of our psyche – and it worked.
The bassoonist also arranged the scores to accompany the post-interval part of the evening: three vintage films, depicting the harsh life Hebridean islanders lived in the 1920s and 30s. Among the images of peat-cutting and spinning, weaving, shearing, peat fires and break-neck bird-hunts, the audience almost forgot they were at a concert: the music merely transported us all to Eriskay, St Kilda and Skye.
Clearly, that’s the way Cuillin Sound would have it! A varied and enjoyable evening.