Instead, we're taken inside a process where the making of music creates a physicality beyond sound and spills over into movement or – as in the case of The Intoxicating Rose Garden – calligraphy, animation and film. Here, the initial inspiration was poetry. The words of 14th-century Persian poet Hafez were morphed into delicately ornate calligraphic forms by artist/translator Jila Peacock. Her "shape poems" prompted lyrical responses from composer Sally Beamish, and her music – for flute, harp, trumpet and cello – has now become the live springboard for a richly textured performance that intoxicates with its juxtapositions and complexities.
The most challenging element is Michael Popper's interpretation, as both singer and dancer, of the themes within the poems. His charismatic style, almost shamanistic in its involved intensity, is not to all tastes. But as he channels folklorique motifs – there's even a whisk of Morris dance – or whirls, wrenches, burdens himself with yoked sticks inbetween sonorously voicing the text, he catches at the emotional depths within poems that use animal imagery to reflect on life's trials and joys.
On-screen, Laurie Irvine's film sent motes of light clustering into the constellations of Jila Peacock's calligraphy, as if the words were stardust. And indeed, the opening half of Red Note Ensemble's programme was a moment to stargaze: a recital by celebrated Iranian vocalist, composer and setar player Anoosh Jahanshahi of the Hafez poems. It transported us into a shimmering landscape of lilting cadences, vigorous rhythms, meditative croonings ... The air was perfumed with heady musicality.
A man (Greg Sinclair) and a young boy (Bartek Bialucki) team up in a Sonata that uses the togetherness of playing cello duets as a metaphor for relationships beyond the interaction of teacher and pupil. Gentle, whimsical but nonetheless genuinely profound, the piece makes eye-catching choreographies out of bowing techniques, unleashes imaginative ways of looking tangentially at objects but above all it touches, with an unmawkish tenderness, on what music can open our hearts and minds to, whatever age we are. Further showings would be welcome.