Matthews matches Beethoven in ‘Grand Barcarolle’

Matthews matches Beethoven in ‘Grand Barcarolle’
There are few contemporary composers who are able to engage with music of the past in the skilful, sensitive and imaginative way that Colin Matthews does in his transcriptions, arrangements and new works inspired by those of the past. The latter was in evidence at one of the hottest events of last autumn which saw the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and conductor Riccardo Chailly tour Beethoven’s 8th Symphony across Europe alongside Grand Barcarolle, a new 14-minute companion piece by Matthews. Critical acclaim followed Grand Barcarolle, which uses the forces of a Beethovenian orchestra in a new contemporary light, yet one which matches the gravity of Beethoven:
Grand Barcarolle [is] a piece that toys with the fact that Beethoven left the Eighth Symphony without a slow movement, but nods equally towards Mahler in its sombre melodiousness. A barcarolle is a gondolier’s song, and we soon heard the water, first rippling in the overlapping woodwind, then becoming choppier, more glinting. The writing is richly melodic – slow, song-like and serenely beautiful… Here, like Beethoven in his slow movements, Matthews aims for the heart, and hits its target just as surely.’
The Guardian (Erica Jeal), 2 November 2012
‘Flowing with gently dislocated barcarolle rhythms, it has a seriousness well matched to this great orchestra.’
The Telegraph (John Allison), 26 October 2011
‘…modest in its concentration of textures and its absence of percussion or harp, yet grand in its breadth of conception, the characteristic rocking pulse disturbed by downdraughts of violin eddies, florid flashes of tiny woodwind cadenzas, and moments of strange and sudden freeze.’
The Times (Hilary Finch), 4 November 2011 

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