MSO2008 Concert 2

I’ve returned to Melbourne’s winter season of music and what an astounding few weeks there will be ahead of me. It’s already begun with Saturday evening’s performance of three works by French composers performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Reibert De Leeuw.

This was the second of four concerts in their Metropolis series, Descent and Ascension at the Malt House Theatre.

The evening opened with the awe inspiring, delicate and yet powerful composition, Color, by Marc-Andre Dalbavie. The piece commenced with a such a restrained, barely perceptible chord of strings punctuated by single harp notes accentuated by light percussion and gradual introduction of piano strings being tapped by a small metal rod.

The piece swelled into a dense roar of brass chords shifting atonally against strings and reeds. The program notes refer to one critic describing Color as “monumental music, full of big chords and metronomic, obsessive repeated notes on a marimba and piano. Some of those chords shimmer in the air, only to be wiped away with a cloth of scatter shot string figures.”

It was terrifically inspiring to hear an orchestra perform such a work, certainly giving me a kick up the arse to work on those pieces I’d begun in the mid-1990’s (eg. Sensorium Connect) that would have such an score further underscored by a generative sound scape, largely shaped by a live re-sampling of the performance in situ…

The second piece, Henri Dutelleux’s Correspondences, was one of those heady avant garde pieces that was, in part, interesting to listen to, but hard to sustain ones focus on. It’s most redeeming moment was the final 24 bars or so which had the vocalist, Merlyn Quaife, near draw tears from my weary eyes as she hit a sublime note that drew the piece to a close… Supurb.

The final work, Peirre Boulez’s Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna, was a piece that was made to be heard on site. Although broadcast live, one had to be in the theatre to fully experience this work. Thoroughly enjoyed hearing various parts, like strings and horns performed above and to the left and right of me…

What I didn’t enjoy was how some Western composers tend to treat the percussion instruments of other cultures. For instance, there were two tabla’s, a conga and a darbuka, all three being struck by sticks! I found it alarming that we have these fine instruments that take great skill to perform with and we hit them with sticks!

That’s it for now… am so looking forward to the Toru Takemitsu, Gyogy Ligetti and Sidika Ozdil works this coming Wednesday evening and the performance of Messian’s End of Time at St Patrick’s Cathedral on the 21st of May… and then there’s the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s Audacious series of new composers works on the 8th of June! Sensational!

Thanks Justina and Lawrence for the tickets…

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