Earlier this month the Australian composer Carl Vine paid a rare visit to the UK to hear the UK premiere of his Piano Concerto No.2 at the Royal Festival Hall with pianist Piers Lane, conductor Vassily Sinaisky and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The 25-minute piece, which is a co-commission with the LPO and Sydney Symphony Orchestra, displays Vine’s charismatic and colourful piano writing. At the London performance the press were quick to praise this ‘ravishing’ work.
‘…an extremely likable new piano concerto… Cast in a traditional three-movement span, with a slow middle one, much of the work is enjoyably rhapsodic. This first movement essays various moods and engenders various musical analogies: a mixture of Rachmaninovian chords and Prokofievesque precociousness to start, then a touch of French Impressionism with a wealth of lovely orchestral interplay. This is a tonal and approachable mix, Vine displaying a deft ear for timbre, including solo and duo roles for the harp, while all eight woodwinds are given unique parts. Eventually the opening music returns and builds to a climax, complete with a traditional cadenza spot and battling sets of drums. The ensuing ‘Nocturne’ opens on brass, lower winds and percussion, the music not just slow, for as Vine puts it, there’s “some surprisingly energetic activity – if only glimpsed by moonlight”. The finale, ‘Cloudless Blue’, evokes an Australian summer’s day. But it’s not all fast music and can suddenly melt into a melodious languor, before picking up speed again to a thrilling close.’
Classical Source (Nick Breckenfield), 18 October 2012
‘Vine’s work is consistently pleasant on the ear, and its formal structure is easy to follow: three movements give different moods and within each movement is its own structure of different phases, each movement a little concerto in itself. For the faster, more filmic passages, Vine uses a number of tricks to generate excitement – a particular trademark is a short, extremely fast arpeggio ending in a loud hit of one of the percussion instruments. Another memorable moment was a rare chance to shine for the tuba. Some of the slow passages, particularly in the second movement Nocturne, were ravishing. It’s a work I’d happily see again…’
Bachtrack (David Karlin), 18 October 2012