Instrumentation

picc.1.1.ca.1.bcl.1.cbsn - 4.2.2.btrbn.1 - timp - perc(2): I: BD/tam-t II: glsp/xyl/vib/2 low concert tom-toms/snare drum/crash.cyms - harp - 2 pno - strings

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Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes

The principle of a concerto with a single soloist is well understood: the soloist is a hero assisted, and sometimes challenged, by the orchestra. But what is the rationale for two heroes? Are they at war, competing, collaborating, or just chatting? While wondering how to reconcile these options, I was assailed by a stream of musical ideas perfect for two pianos with accompaniment, but which didn’t conform to a wider architectural scheme.
 
These ideas were so persistent that they simply demanded inclusion, leaving me to find a binding principle later on. This situation brought to mind The Arrival of Implacable Gifts, the 1985 painting by Australian surrealist James Gleeson (1915-2008) in which disparate dazzling images are woven into a roiling sea of intrigue. Gleeson spoke, about this painting, of gifts dropping from the sky, things that we longed for but which on arrival became unavoidable, and not always completely welcome.
 
The first movement, 'Irresistible Urges', is a collection of the original striking sonic images that were the inescapable, implacable gifts that engendered the composition. The middle two movements emerged with distinctly narrative characteristics, and so became 'Folk Story' and 'Fairytale', the latter becoming increasingly fanciful. Since music contains neither verbs nor nouns, I can’t tell exactly what the stories are, and invite the listener to imagine their own. The final movement returns to the ineluctable and inexorable, motifs that lead us to the unpreventable end of the music.

Reviews

‘Chords surging across two pianos, backed by a fateful bass drum beat, exactly evoked the impact of his inspiration — Implacable Gifts, a surrealist vision by Australian painter James Gleeson of a cruel sea disgorging random elements on its shore… Vine described his subject matter as “the nature of creation”, and it might also be our creation, the humanity that exists essentially between our ears, while all else is nature red in tooth and claw… From the dramatic opening movement, Irresistible Urges, through the narrative themed and lyrically meditative middle passages, Folk Story and Fairytale, soloists and baton formed a tight triad to channel a complex work in its world premiere… In the finale, Inevitable Conclusion, as strings raced to catch pianos and percussion, the lyricism seemed to echo Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, which shares both inspiration in paint and origin as a piece for piano… Vine’s notes described soloists as heroes, whether collaborating or competing; in this, both were winners.’
The West Australian (David Cusworth), 13 May 2018

 

‘Vine took his cues from surreal art and structured the ideas as musical chunks thrown up against one another. But don’t be fooled, the final product is of course carefully refined and immaculately crafted…The four-movement work opened with the two pianos at war, hurling chords at each other half a beat apart. However for most of the work the soloists were in conversation, echoing and dovetailing each other and enmeshed in the orchestral texture.  The work was scored for a large orchestra and there were moments of swamping overtones from the combination of two pianos, harp, keyboard percussion and full orchestra. Generally though Vine opted for light string textures and transparent scoring, allowing for moments of emotional intimacy and clarity. The sweetness of glockenspiel and bird-like woodwind calls was one such moment in the first movement contrasted with noisy rhythmic passages. A meandering cadenza shared by the two pianos led into a pastoral second movement with a modal folk melody on flute and cascading piano arpeggios passed between Stott and Lane with immaculate delicacy. The third movement opened with rhapsodic piano runs reminiscent of the second movement of Vine’s Piano Concerto No 1. Germs of ideas coalesced to create chugging momentum but were immediately replaced by new content. The streams of consciousness approach began to feel piecemeal and ran the risk of content overload. The final movement was a rhythmically driven rollercoaster ride to a triumphant brassy finale. This is a work chock-full of colour and climax, and confirms (despite the assault of implacable musical ideas) Vine’s unerring ear for beauty. The concerto sat comfortably on the program alongside the similarly rich sound worlds of Ravel and Prokofiev.’
Limelight (Rosalind Appleby), 13 May 2018

Implacable Gifts

Federation Concert Hall (Hobart, TAS, Australia)

Piers Lane, Kathryn Stott, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Rory MacDonald

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Implacable Gifts

Perth Concert Hall (Perth, WA, Australia)

Piers Lane, Kathryn Stott, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Rory MacDonald

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Implacable Gifts

Perth Concert Hall (Perth, WA, Australia)

Piers Lane, Kathryn Stott, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Rory MacDonald

Find Out More