Carl Vine returned to his home town of Perth in October for the world premiere of his Concerto for Orchestra. The work was commissioned by philanthropist Geoff Stearn and received two performances by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra under Michael Stern.
A genre in which composers can showcase their ear for colour and flair for large scale gesture, the Concerto for Orchestra has captured the imaginations of the likes of Bartók, Lutosławski and Robin Holloway (who has written five to date!), Carter, Lindberg, and Faber Music’s own John Woolrich.
Carl Vine writes:
‘I have used this opportunity to feature every instrument in the orchestra in one way or another. Although classical concertos follow the symphonic fashion of incorporating sonata form, I chose to mutate the form beyond recognition, eliminating the precepts of primary and secondary themes, and the very notion of exposition-development-recapitulation.
In place of these traditional formulae I have used a process developed in my piano trio (“The Village”, 2014): a broad family of musical “elements” evolve organically through a chain of episodes to create a web of melodies and harmonies that are related but not identical. This network of ideas is tied together by strong lateral bonds but remains fluid and flexible, creating a series of fleeting glimpses - what Prokofiev called visions fugitives - abstract patterns glimpsed in the half-light or imagined behind clouds.’
‘A kaleidoscopic showpiece… The piece bristles with contrast and energy. Within the first few minutes we journey from a mellifluous woodwind pastorale to a fanfare for full brass choir, then to a driving passage for timpani and drums alone… Within Vine’s deft and unpretentious musical language one may detect hints of minimalism, jazz, a recurrent lyricism and the direct expressiveness of music for film. It is very much a summation and distillation of the kinds of music we live with every day, reimagined and revitalised for the concert hall.’
The Australian (Paul Hopwood), 14 October 2014