Alchemical melodies – Rasch’s Violin Concerto

Rasch 55x60 (MF).jpg

In April, Torsten Rasch’s dramatic Violin Concerto ‘Tropi’ was premiered by Wolfgang Hentrich and the Dresden Philharmonic under Leo McFall. The substantial four movement work – the composer’s first concerto – was inspired by Helmut Krausser ‘s captivating 1993 novel Melodien, in which myth, magic, music, and madness are interact in a dark, and increasingly disturbing, narrative.

 

 

 

 

Unfolding over 20 minutes, this weighty statement is everything we have come to expect from Rasch: a large orchestra is masterfully handled with an incredible lightness of touch, whist the hefty solo part, with its many knotty twists and turns, offers violinists numerous opportunities to showcase their technical – and interpretative – virtuosity.

 

From the first movement, ‘Descent’, which begins with the violin suspended high in the stratosphere, to the second movement, where much of the constantly renewing material derives from the ‘Veni Creator Spiritus’ chant, Rasch’s concerto traces an uncompromising and utterly personal trajectory, which only becomes more intense as it progresses. The finale, ‘Ascent’, reaches its culmination with a quotation of the Easter Hymn ‘Salve festa dies’ but concludes, not with a feeling of release, but rather one of the concerto travelling full circle – back to the allusive high writing with which it began.

 

One of the composer’s most compelling orchestral works to date, the concerto receives its US premiere in September, with Phillippe Quint and the Spokane Symphony Orchestra under Eckhart Preu.