Francisco Coll conducted a dream duo of soloists in his compelling new Double Concerto with Camerata Bern.
Commissioned by Camerata Bern as part of Coll’s year as their Composer-in-Residence, the Double Concerto Les Plaisirs Illuminés for violin, cello and small orchestra was premiered in June with Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Sol Gabetta as soloists. Coll himself conducted, and shortly after the performances the 4-movement concerto was recorded for release on the Alpha label.
The sheer density of invention present in this 20-minute work (which takes its title from Dalí) is staggering. The solo writing veers from rapt interior moments of dialogue to wild gestures of brilliant – but barbed – bravura. A small orchestra (20 players, each with their individual part) is utilised with extreme precision and flair, nowhere more so than in the hallucinatory third movement ‘Alegrías’ where the orchestral violins echo Kopatchinskaja’s forced, hyper-expressive channelling of cante flamenco in thrilling heterophony.
‘What fascinates me most about this concerto (and Francisco’s music in general) is that it is rooted in tradition but sounds totally new,’ said Gabetta. ‘It is rhythmically alive – dancing and singing – but at the same time it is abrupt, always in search of extremes’. ‘Francisco is an original and captivating composer,’ adds Kopatchinskaja. ‘His compositions do not only come from the brain, they have a visceral appeal. He makes my instrument or voice sound so crazy as I never would have expected, enlarging technical and expressive limits.’
‘The highlight of the programme… A tight, effective piece.’
SRF (Jenny Berg), 12 June 2019
‘Filigree craftsmanship… Although Coll alludes to a nearly-100-year-old work by Dalí in the title, and flirts with Flamenco borrowings, his composition is utterly contemporary. Coll’s art is of a physical intensity that demands a lot of stamina: in some raging episodes, the motives contest each other’s places, the solo instruments remain entangled in a never-ending dialogue, in the sombre “Lullaby” and the final emotionally disturbing “Lamento” the constant changes of expression come to a head.’
Der Bund (Stefan Bucher), 18 June 2019
‘The undisputed highlight of the concert… diverse timbres and very sophisticated rhythms brought the ear pleasures in “Alegrias”. “Lamento” ended with a climax which drew seconds of silence before the tension erupted in an enthusiastic and prolonged standing ovation.’
Badische Zeitung (Erich Kreiger), 13 June 2019