Like many, I first came across the Australian aboriginal notion that the land was sung into existence in Bruce Chatwin's 1986 book The Songlines. It's a wonderful idea that I've met since in a variety of musical contexts, all of which left me cold (or shivering from excess of cringing). But this concert from the talented Australian contemporary music ensemble Elision began with a work by Liza Lim in which, for once, the reference made real, non-trivial sense.

Songs Found in Dream uses a small ensemble to evoke the idea of shimmering, a perceptual state in which boundaries between mind and world are at their most fluid. Recruiting a battery of soft scrapes, squeaks and semi-articulations to each episode, Lim visits each area just long enough to make its subsequent metamorphosis meaningful, allowing the ear to focus and refocus in precisely the same way that a heat haze may cause us to see different things in one and the same object. Admirably short and restrained, the piece succeeds not simply because everything works, but because it can be heard to do so.

Songs... shared the stage with five other works, including appetising new pieces by Bryn Harrison and Mary Bellamy. Only Aaron Cassidy's contrived evocation of the philosopher Gilles Deleuze's meditations on Francis Bacon's Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion came up short. The anchor work was Brian Ferneyhough's 1992 homage to Varèse, with the absurdly difficult violin part played by Graeme Jennings, but a masterful rendition of James Dillon's Once Upon a Time (1980) revealed the latter as the more interesting point of departure.

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