There's been universal critical praise for Danny Elfman's Violin Concerto (Eleven Eleven), following the recent performances given by Sandy Cameron with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and JoAnn Falletta.
The three performances (21 to 23 September) were the US professional performances of the 40-minute work. It will next be heard in March and April 2019, when Thomas Søndergård and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra include it in their US tour, with Cameron again the soloist. This will coincide with the release of the premiere recording of the work on Sony Classical. And then, in May 2019, Cameron joins the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Christopher Dragon for three further dates.
'On somewhat of a dare while at a program featuring music he [Elfman] wrote for Tim Burton films, in which Cameron played the cadenza from “Edward Sissorhands,” he set out to write a violin concerto, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra — Eleven Eleven. He chose Cameron as his muse and reportedly she asked that the piece be challenging. It is.Cameron debuted the work last June at the Prague Proms, only right since it was co-commissioned by the Czech and Royal Scottish National Symphony Orchestras and Stanford Live. Inspired by the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No.1, Elfman’s concerto is dramatic, lyrical, highly rhythmic, percussive (especially given its unusual cadenza-like back and forth between the violin and percussion), thoughtful and playful. The score is high adrenaline business, taking us on a musical roller-coaster ride from the heights to the sudden-drop depth of emotions.The enthusiastically and internationally acclaimed Cameron, dressed in something akin to a sleek, colorful Catwoman outfit, delivered an amazing performance. There was hardly a moment in the 40-some-minute piece that she wasn’t moving, at times on her silver-slippered tippy toes, at times crouching and springing up and down, roaming back and forth in her performance space, even once twirling around in a little dance, articulating every measure. And when she occasionally looked into the audience, there was something musically seductive about it. The physical and emotional energy she put into the work was downright compelling, exciting and extraordinary.The reception given her — and JoAnn Falletta and orchestra which were exemplary - was wild and crazy and prolonged, of the sort found at sports events. No question about electricity in the air.'The Virginia Gazette (John Shulson), 26 September 2018'If difficulty was the order of the day, then it never entered the vocabulary or mindset of the VSO nor Sandy Cameron the soloist in Elfman's Violin Concerto. What more can be said? Her energetic and invigorating performance belied her diminutive stature. Not only was the concerto difficult for all concerned, the work contained four individual movements and lasted forty minutes. With a tender hush, the very accessible introduction eased the performance into existence and then took on its own modernistic character with surprises galore and if virtuosity can be personified, its name would be Sandy Cameron. However, it was the third movement that captured the attention of the Ferguson patrons with a mesmerizing elegiac gentility and shades of the Adagio from Khatchaturian's “Gayaneh” ballet score plus wonderful filigree ornamentation from the upper strings. Also, throughout the work there were points of very evocative writing for double bass and cellos as well as the innovative percussion section.About surprises, the seating of the orchestra utilised divided strings for the performance with firsts on the left, seconds on the right and cellos front and center, this at the request of the composer who if he required a world class orchestra and soloist to guide the US premier of his work, he certainly had his wish fulfilled.'Gloucester Gazette (Tom Steel), 26 September 2018