Colin Matthews: 'Violin Concerto' premieres at the Proms

Colin Matthews: 'Violin Concerto' premieres at the Proms
Oliver Knussen is known for his highly individual and stimulating concert planning, and so it proved when conducting the BBC SO for his BBC Prom on 28 July, which featured the London premiere of Colin Matthews’ 'Violin Concerto' (a CBSO commission supported by the Feeney Trust).  The new work was presented alongside a diverse collection of repertoire by Stockhausen, Birtwistle, Zimmermann and Luke Bedford.

Since the premiere in Birmingham last September, ambassador for new music and virtuoso violinist Leila Josefowicz has toured the 'Violin Concerto' to four European countries, ensuring a broad public profile.  Josefowicz performed her solo part from memory standing out against an orchestra which features a lively percussion section.  Critics found the new concerto to be ‘mercurial’ and ‘luxuriant’.

‘The most substantial was Colin Matthews’ 'Violin Concerto', receiving its London premiere. The first of its two movements is by turns reflective and mercurial, its scoring demonstrating Matthews’ fine ear for orchestral sonority.  The second movement is an eloquent rhapsody for the solo violin, pitted against repeated notes at first unobtrusive but becoming more insistent.
The dialogue generates a powerful drama in which Leila Josefowicz was impassioned and communicative.’
The Evening Standard (Barry Millington), 29 July 2010
 
'Matthews’s 'Violin Concerto', here receiving its London premiere, is daring in its anti-heroic quality. The solo violin floats like an airy spirit over an orchestral haze, only gradually acquiring energy and weight, and the orchestral music, too, darts at shapes and sounds rather than uttering them plainly.
…The second movement is a different proposition, its solemn tolling chords creating a powerfully luxuriant melancholy.'
Daily Telegraph (Ivan Hewett), 29 July 2010
‘…Matthews’s concerto is a substantial work, its introspective refusal to do conventional concerto things seeming every bit as impressive here as it did at its Birmingham premiere last autumn.’
The Guardian (Andrew Clements), 30 July 2010
 
The 'Violin Concerto' is still touring, and will visit the USA’s West Coast, Finland and Germany over the next 6 months.

In a composer profile event which preceded the BBC Prom performance, a sequence of instrumental works reminded us of Matthews’ ability to write music on a smaller scale. Cellist Jonathan Rees performed Matthews’ Third Duo and his 'First Enigma', while young violinist Charlotte Reid judged momentum in 'Chaconne' and 'Moto perpetuo' and violist Robert Ames conveyed the ephemeral manner of 'Scorrevole' and the incandescent 'Calmo'.