Critical acclaim has followed all of Martin Suckling’s dazzling premieres this year, and his new violin concerto, de sol y grana, was no exception. The piece was commissioned by London Music Masters and premiered by Polish violinist Agata Szymczewska, conductor Hugh Brunt and the London Contemporary Orchestra on 12 December as part of the Spitalfields Music Winter Festival. A second performance is alredy planned with Agata Szymczewska and Southbank Sinfonia on Thursday 24 May 2012 at St John’s, Waterloo.
'De Sol y Grana takes its title from a line by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado that translates, roughly, as "of sun(light) and scarlet". Scored for soloist and an ensemble of 14 players, it leaves an impression of vibrant colours and wide-ranging thematic material brought together with considerable technical skill. The solo part, confidently addressed by the Polish violinist Agata Szymczewska, keeps the player busy, often floating high over the forces beneath, or darting, bird-like, around the top of the texture. Suckling compares the shape of the piece to a series of bubbles in which the solo line and ensemble form one kind of relationship before the moment dissolves and shifts into something new. The score's sheeny surface glistened with ideas attractively set in their overall context, yet all making their mark on their own.'
Guardian (George Hall), 14 December 2011
'Its opening section was tautly controlled and powerful, soloist Agata Szymczewska dispatching volleys of notes with concentrated virtuosity against a feverish orchestral backdrop. The technique and imagination on show throughout Suckling’s score was enormously impressive, but the piece was most memorable in the later sections. An elegiac strings-only passage, played in heavy, long bows, made way for a brief, unexpectedly moving duet, Szymczewska’s trills flitting playfully above a melancholy bass flute line. A tense build-up, with the violin increasingly insistent, led to the work’s throwaway conclusion – a final bubble gently popping, one imagined.'
The Telegraph (Hugo Shirley), 13 December 2011
'Rather than being the dominant force, the soloist is first among equals, fizzing in and out of weirdly imagined string and wind textures that are sometimes soured by quarter-tones... under trills or quivering oscillations from the soloist, the strands are finally gathered into a superb finish: a bird-song like crescendo of ecstasy.'
The Times (Richard Morrison), 14 December 2011
'Suckling has created a remarkable and beautiful work in de sol y grana, and it deserves more performances.'
Bachtrack.com (Paul Kilbey), 15 December 2011