United Kingdom Bartók, Anna Clyne, Chopin: Eric Lu (pianist), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Tito Muñoz (conductor), Metropolis Halls, Glasgow, 27.10.2022 (GT)
Anna Clyne – This Midnight Hour
Chopin – Piano Concerto in E minor, Op.11
Bartók – Concerto for Orchestra, Sz.116
The American composer Anna Clyne’s music has develop into a daily function in Scotland’s musical scene as she has been Affiliate Composer with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, nevertheless she has nonetheless to seek out her personal expression with totally different influences characterising her finely crafted music. This Midnight Hour dates from 2015 and was written for the Orchestre nationwide d’Île-de-France when she was the resident composer.
On this piece, Clyne takes as her inspiration Baudelaire’s ‘Harmonie du soir’ by which she makes use of the 4 stanzas to evoke a night spent in erotic anticipation. There may be additionally a single stanza from the twentieth-century Spanish poet Juan Ramón Jiménez about ‘a girl operating nakedly mad via the pure evening’ by which the composer makes an attempt to evoke a visible journey’. The opening bars have been enticing and finely performed on the strings with a honeyed toned concord within the woodwind resulting in an exotically usual orchestral image. The music was nicely orchestrated with tremendous writing for these woodwind and strings, but whereas it’s alluring, it doesn’t final in a single’s reminiscence for too lengthy. Earlier than the shut, there emerged a melancholy waltz by which the violas evoked the sound of a avenue accordion, and as a coup de théâtre, the 2 trumpets of Hedley Benson and Mark Calder made their manner offstage to the rear gallery to convey The Midnight Hour to an exhilarating shut. Definitely, this nearly cinematic piece is value listening to once more, and hopefully we might be listening to extra of Clyne’s music right here in Scotland.
The 2018 Leeds Piano Competitors winner Eric Lu solely arrived right here the day earlier than this live performance because the initially booked Russian pianist Zlata Chochieva cancelled her engagement owing to the present issues travelling from Russia. This was along with the conductor Joanna Carneiro cancelling at late discover. That this live performance was capable of nonetheless current top-class performers is outstanding.
The American conductor Tito Muñoz had already proven his expertise within the opening piece, and he has a dynamic, energetic type bringing out all of the intricacy of the composer’s concepts. Within the Chopin concerto, he drew out all the fantastic thing about the prolonged orchestral introduction with tremendous enjoying particularly from the strings. Eric Lu offered splendidly assured keyboard enjoying evincing all of the poetry of the rating. The orchestra have been a bit listless of their accompaniment and maybe highlighted the weak orchestration of the work. Within the Larghetto, the strings have been too relaxed, but the American pianist supplied superbly intimate enjoying and fantastic intonation. Within the Rondo finale, contrasting with the moderately surly chords from the low strings, the intense vibrant harmonies from Lu have been characterised by rhapsodically flowing notes serving to ship an effervescent and joyful climax.
In his pre-concert interview, the American conductor talked in regards to the ‘mysterious sounds’ of Bartók’s closing masterpiece and commented that the composer was maybe ‘depressed from the wars’ and that ‘evening music is one thing private to him’ and that he was nonetheless ‘experimenting with totally different pitches’. Muñoz has been conductor of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra for 9 years and definitely he has nice expertise each in North America and in Europe and based mostly on this efficiency he certainly might be showing right here recurrently.
The Allegro opened darkly with the pentatonic theme on the low strings evoking the evening, earlier than a magical passage from the solo flute of Matthew Higham because the theme handed to the violins earlier than we heard the flute once more and a passage sounding as if coming from the depths of Hungarian folks legend. Notable was a passage on the strings suggesting – in equal measure – angst and menace. Right here Muñoz introduced out all of the darkness of this music exhibiting this orchestra on prime type. This was characterised notably by the woodwind invocation of Hungarian folks music and accentuated by the facet drum. All of it aptly demonstrated the conductor’s exact switches of feelings and harmonies of Bartók’s rating.
I additionally appreciated the depth of color that was introduced out by Muñoz within the strings and the woodwind, with the flutes and the piccolo of Luke Russell significantly magical earlier than a hushed passage within the strings. Within the fourth motion (Intermezzo) the oboe of Stella McCracken launched a captivating folk-like thought heralding the Lehár/Shostakovich brass citation (albeit Muñoz instructed it might have been the composer quoting Looney Tunes which was well-liked within the US throughout the warfare). The passage was distinguished by one other lovely flute solo from Higham. Within the finale, brilliant sunshine emerged because the orchestra stormed at nice velocity to the concerto’s finish with occasional impolite blasts from the brass in opposition to the charming woodwind and the reprise of the folks theme. The trumpets of Benson and Calder invoked a splendid chorale earlier than the just about jazz-inspired strings theme entered the race to the thrilling end result.
This was a wonderful live performance with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on prime type and augers nicely for the remainder of the season right here in Glasgow.