On 5 October Sean Shibe premiered Forgotten Dances by Thomas Adès at the Wiener Konzerthaus, beginning a European tour of the composer’s first ever published work for a solo instrument other than keyboard. Forgotten Dances was commissioned by the Barbican Centre and the European Concert Hall Organisation in the framework of ECHO Rising Stars.

The 20-minute piece is cast in six movements. It opens with ‘Overture - Queen of the Spiders’, in which shifting tempi and ornate melodic lines create an atmosphere of mystery and anticipation. ‘Berceuse – Paradise of Thebes’ follows, whose title recalls an episode in Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel. ‘Here was a swift’ references Max Ernst and calls for brilliant virtuosity in quicksilver passagework. ‘Barcarolle – the Maiden Voyage’ offers a more delicate, lyrical contrast to the preceding tumult. ‘Carillon de Ville’ follows, a tribute to Berlioz that begins with delicate pealing before its resounding chords grow denser and more dissonant, ushering in a clamorous end. It concludes with the chaconne-like ‘Vesper’, dedicated to Henry Purcell and based on the Evening Hymn.

Shibe will tour Forgotten Dances extensively throughout 2023 and into 2024. It receive its UK premiere at LSO St. Luke’s on 18 January; on 22 October it made its Polish debut at the Grzegorz Fitelberg Concert Hall (Katowice). Further performances are scheduled for 23/24 at numerous venues included MÜPA Budapest, BOZAR, the Konzerthaus Dortmund, the Concertgebouw, Elbphilharmonie, Philharmonie de Paris, Stockholm’s Konserthuset, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, and L'Auditori.  

October also saw the world premiere recording of Alchymia from Mark Simpson and Quatuor Diotima released on Orchid Classics – available to download and stream here. The 20-minute basset clarinet quintet was first performed in 2021 by the same lineup. Watch their complete performance of Alchymia here.