On 21 April Francisco Coll’s Elysian (2022) received its Spanish premiere with the Orquesta de València, conducted by Alexander Liebreich.
The 14-minute work sketches a cityscape, expressing Coll’s fascination with the hypermodern urban spaces. Coll’s ideas were particularly shaped by the work of French Philosopher Gilles Lipovetsky and his concept of the World-City. Such a city is dynamic, with an angular layout, packed with bustling streets, and entails what Coll calls an “explosive and intense way of living.” The title evokes the idea of the city as a world-in-itself and refuge for its citizens. Structurally Elysian is a kind of Rondo, alternating two faces of the same subject. Coll discusses the piece here.
The coherence between orchestration, form and musical message is overwhelmingly logical…as a result the listener goes wherever the composer takes them…One of the things that most strikes me about Coll's music is its ability to surprise in the direction it takes… It is not easy at all to intuit the paths [the music] will take…but nevertheless, paradoxically, its architecture has an overwhelming coherence…The way in which Coll navigates the harmonic territory is masterful, like those painters who dwell between abstraction and figuration.
Valencia Plaza (Joaquín Guzmán), 23 April 2023
[Elysian] is a new statement of Coll's creative genius. Timbres, effects, dynamic resources, instrumental colors - Coll draws on all of these…to delight in the unique, unmistakable language that marks all his work, including his pictorial one. It is something that is felt from the first note: the breath of genius.
Levante (Justo Romero), 23 April 2023
Elysian was commissioned by Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Gustavo Gimeno, Music Director, and Orquesta de València. Last month Gimeno conducted the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the Canadian premiere of Coll’s Aqua Cinerea¸ a work he recorded with the Orchestra Philharmonique du Luxembourg in 2021.
The Orquesta de València continue to champion Coll’s music, where he was composer-in-residence from 2018-2020. In 2022 they gave the world premiere of Coll’s Lilith, which musicologist and composer Jesús Castañer called “one of the most provocative, enigmatic and symbolism-laden compositions that Coll has written to date". In the same concert they gave the Spanish premiere of Coll’s Turia in its version for guitar and chamber orchestra, with Jacob Kellerman and Christian Karlsen. In 2019 the orchestra performed Coll’s Mural (2013-15) and Hidd’n Blue (2009/11).
On 5 May Christopher Windle conducts the North American premiere of Coll’s motet Stella (2018), performed by the William Ferris Chorale. The 5-minute work for double SATB chorus draws on Tomás Luis de Victoria’s Ave Maris Stella (1576). It reflects Coll’s admiration for the Victoria’s textural clarity and luminous harmonies; indeed, Coll’s quotes Victoria’s Requiem in his orchestral work Mural. Stella was commissioned by Stephen Fry for Suzi Digby OBE and the singers of ORA, who recorded the piece for their eponymous 2022 album.