Aisha Orazbayeva rests her violin under her chin as the welcoming applause subsides. She raises her bow and nonchalantly touches the screw at its tip against one of the strings, making an extremely quiet 'ting'. I, probably along with a good percentage of the Kings Place audience, am unsure as to whether or not the concert has started.

It has done. She is playing Helmut Lachenmann's Toccatina, a miniature but encyclopaedic study of eccentric string playing techniques. During the work's five minutes Orazbayeva bows every part of her instrument save the strings, taps microscopically on the neck with her fingers, and extracts a range of sounds soft enough to make a mouse go 'Pardon?' All this, she does in a calm, spontaneous style, almost as if she were making it up herself.

This was a remarkable concert opener from a remarkable player, brimming with confidence and enthusiasm. Her exploratory, matter-of-fact style of presentation suited this odd repertoire perfectly, and it made for a wonderfully calm performance of Morton Feldman's For Aaron Copland as well, which she played after the Lachenmann without a break. Though a little like the previous piece in its tendency towards aphorism, the Feldman is made up of long, quiet, held notes which exude a sense of stasis.

Little could be further from Pierre Boulez's Anthèmes I, which concluded the (regrettably brief) first half of the recital. The piece is flashy, showy, and virtuosic in the grand, traditional style, and stood out somewhat in this otherwise hushed programme. Orazbayeva's variety of tone reminded me of the Arditti Quartet's Nancarrow recital the previous evening; much like the players of that group, she handles the extremes very well, being unafraid to adopt a real coarseness of sound when the music demands but just as at home in the sweeter, more lyrical passages which Boulez occasionally slips in. Her performance was unashamedly acoustic, despite the piece being better known as Anthèmes II, which expands it and includes live electronics. You can certainly hear a hint of this later version's spectral echos in Anthèmes I, but this synth-free version certainly works on its own terms as well, and it showed off Orazbayeva's range very effectively.

The second half was entirely devoted to Luigi Nono's La Lontananza Nostalgica Utopica Futura ('The Nostalgic Utopian Future Distance'), a piece from 1989 for eight magnetic tapes and live violin. The tapes, containing material recorded by the work's dedicatee Gidon Kremer, were manipulated live by Peiman Khosravi. Substantial elements of the piece are determined spontaneously by the two performers, the soloist being free to wander around the performance space, from stand to stand. It is a particular quirk of this piece that it seems to give most of the exciting bits to the pre-recorded tape, rather than the live violinist, and though it is – as Orazbayeva's interesting programme note commented – an exploration of 'shades of quietness and inaudibility', it's also a very jolting listening experience. The tape part is prone to violent storm-like outbursts, and is almost always more active than the solo part.

This wasn't quite the meditative experience that long works in this manner sometimes are – not that it was designed to be, of course. But it was, overall, a slightly disconcerting experience, in which I was always slightly on edge, expecting a loud bit to be just around the corner and hence unable to enjoy the contemplative sections as much as I might have done. Also, half the time I wasn't entirely sure where Orazbayeva was, which didn't increase the sense of comfort. It struck me as being almost as much of an art installation as a piece of music, but while fascinating in concept and certainly provocative, it didn't convince me totally as a concert experience.

That said, its execution was masterful, with a sense of dialogue somehow emerging between Orazbayeva and Khosravi, and the ending was very memorable. A long, high, held note sounded, which Orazbayeva appeared to play – but the sound in fact was coming from the tape. She wandered off the stage with the note still hanging in the air, and I was just as confused as I had been at the start of the concert.

Aisha Orazbayeva: The Traces of Sound, at Kings PlacePaul Kilbey reviews Aisha Orazbayeva playing works by Lachenmann, Feldman, Boulez and Nono at Kings Place.3