Taking its title from René Magritte, Coll’s delightfully bizarre Ceci n’est pas un Concerto for soprano and ensemble is a fake Piano Concertino, in which the soprano is the real soloist.
The text, written by Coll, is a scene played out as an ‘absurdist’ dialogue between the singer and another character, represented by the pianist, who remains verbally silent. Premiered in December by Elizabeth Atherton with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group under Thomas Adès, the 18-minute tragicomedy displays the same dark wit which animated Coll’s chamber opera Café Kafka. ‘When I write music,’ says Coll, ‘I need to say something about our way of living, and I felt comfortable translating my social concerns into music.’
‘Surreal, expressionist and sometimes rather unsettling…’
The Guardian (Andrew Clements), 12 December 2016