United States Numerous: Pekka Kuusisto (violin), Seattle Symphony Orchestra / Andrew Litton (conductor). Benaroya Corridor, Seattle, 5.11.2022. (ZC)
Ravel – La Valse
Enrico Chapela – Antiphaser: Concerto for Electrical Violin and Orchestra
Debussy – Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, La Mer
Concertos for electrical violin aren’t frequent, however they’re turning into extra so. Established American composers – reminiscent of John Adams and Terry Riley – have written concertos for the instrument, however so too have newer voices like Brett Dean. After a world premiere efficiency this previous weekend by the Seattle Symphony, we are able to add Mexican composer and guitarist Enrico Chapela to this unique however rising checklist. The orchestra and Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto, assisted by the composer, carried out his new concerto for the instrument (Antiphaser) in Benaroya Corridor. It had been co-commissioned by the Seattle Symphony which, even throughout its present inventive transition, has saved up an aggressive program of commissioning and performing new works.
Chapela describes Antiphaser as a cosmic thought experiment: what would somebody see from the moon throughout an eclipse? His personal eclectic musical background guides him on this endeavor to explain that which nobody has witnessed. The son of a chemist and a physicist, he thought he could be a scientist as nicely, till he found the electrical guitar, and music’s pull in the end received out. Chapela pays homage to the scientific lineage in his household with compositions like Antiphaser and MAGNETAR (an earlier concerto for electrical cello). However his model additionally attracts in widespread rock and steel influences with homage to the ‘masters’ whose works additionally expanded what was to be anticipated by orchestras and performers.
I used to be listening to the piece for the primary time, and Chapela’s description was not mandatory for me to take pleasure in it as pure music. The concerto is a journey of virtuosity and digital results in 4 interconnected actions. Kuusisto gave an exacting efficiency, creating yawning results that Chapela, at a desk behind the soloist, manipulated. These cautious augmentations, nonetheless, by no means hid the composition’s ‘conventional’ dimensions as a concerto. An onslaught of tough passages saved Kuusisto on his toes, whereas the orchestra supplied equal pleasure of their give and take with the soloist. As an encore, he handled us to an electrical violin improv session that showcased the violinist manipulating easy phrases to supply an Eno-esque atmosphere.
Initially, this sequence of live shows was to be led by Canadian conductor Alexander Shelley. However Andrew Litton needed to step in as a result of ongoing – and little question irritating – administrative challenges processing visas for the U.S. immigration system. Litton’s profession has taken him to orchestras around the globe, the place he has established an exemplary discographic file of his expertise, and this encounter with the Seattle Symphony supplied extra proof. To accompany an enticing efficiency of the brand new concerto, Litton supplied thrilling, sculpted performances of Debussy and Ravel standbys. Ravel’s La Valse preceded Antiphaser, whereas the second half featured Debussy’s La Mer and Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. Litton’s interpretation of La Mer rippled with pressure, whereas La Valse brimmed with misshapen Viennese enchantment. Even Debussy’s Prelude gleamed with sultry heat, due in no small half to principal flute, Demare McGill.
Regardless that Litton was a fill-in, I hope he comes again. I’m sure I’ve by no means heard him conduct the SSO earlier than, and that may be a disgrace. On the floor, he may look like a throwback conductor in look and with no flashy stick method or overwrought gestures. That is precisely why I hope he will get one other likelihood with the SSO, in a program of his personal creation: extraordinary can stem from the seemingly extraordinary.