BBC Proms reviews for Colin Matthews’s ‘Turning Point’

BBC Proms reviews for Colin Matthews’s ‘Turning Point’
Colin Matthews’s 18-minute orchestral work Turning Point was commissioned by the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam and first performed there in 2007. It has since been performed to great acclaim by the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra (US premiere). This summer it received its UK premiere at the Proms in a stunning performance by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Thomas Sondergard. As Matthews writes, the title describes the work’s structure:  ‘I began it in the spring of 2003 but, having completed the first main section, I couldn’t find the way to continue. This first section was almost wholly fast music and when I came back to it I realised what was needed was a complete change of direction, a “turning point”, into music that is very slow and intense.’
‘…it bursts into life with a seething mass of notes in the woodwind, which spread through the orchestra, as if passing down through multiple layers of activity. When the “turning point” comes, it leads to slower music, but if anything the intensity increases. Awash with energy and ideas, the piece scored a palpable hit.’
Financial Times (Richard Fairman), 31 July 2013

‘I was fascinated by the British premiere of Colin Matthews’s Turning Point. An ingeniously constructed 20-minute orchestral work, it lived up to its title by switching halfway through from a frenetic mosaic of whirling motifs into a Gorecki-like wall of massive, immensely slow, mostly consonant string harmonies, punctuated by arid clangs and clunks from the percussion.’
The Times (Richard Morrison), 31 July 2013
‘Turning Point was written to a commission from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam and that orchestra’s great tradition in Mahler and Matthews’ own involvement with Deryck Cooke’s performing version of Mahler’s last symphony, the 10th, resonates with the tragic dimension the work eventually assumes or at least alludes to in richly sustained strings. Essentially the whole piece is a whirring, motoric, capricious scherzo that secretly wants to be a slow movement. But the engine of it, centred in the woodwind, is not about to run out of steam. It even morphs into a kind of thundering locomotive (echoes of Honegger’s Pacific 231) at one point. Unstoppable, you think, until it does. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales under the high-octane Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård pointed up the technical accomplishment of Turning Point to great effect.’
The Arts Desk (Edward Sekerson), 30 July 2013
‘…the UK premiere of Colin Matthews’s Turning Point. Its jaunty introduction suggested a Sixties caper movie but the mood shifted as tuba and contrabass clarinet erupted darkly, while at times the string writing had the stoicism of the Holy Minimalists. For Matthews, that is new territory.’
Evening Standard (Nick Kimberley), 30 July 2013
‘Turning Point links an elaborate scherzo with slowly moving chordal music that gradually comes to dominate the entire work: the ecstatic, richly detailed woodwind and brass writing has overtones of Mahler and Berg. It was beautifully done.’
The Guardian (Tim Ashley), 30 July 2013