Detlev Glanert: trumpet concerto tribute to Oliver Knussen
The new Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra by Detlev Glanert was unveiled in July at the Tanglewood Festival under Andris Nelsons, with soloist Thomas Rolfs.
The summer saw the world premiere of Detlev Glanert’s new Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra, written in tribute to Oliver Knussen who died last year and was a friend and close mentor to Glanert as conductor and fellow composer. The first performance at the Tanglewood Festival was particularly appropriate as Glanert had been a Tanglewood Music Center Composition Fellow in 1986, the same year Knussen became head of contemporary music activities. Glanert relates that working with Knussen was among the most formative experiences of his apprenticeship period, helping to teach him the virtues of a meticulous attention to detail.
The Boston Symphony’s principal trumpet Thomas Rolfs was soloist and Andris Nelsons took the rostrum with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. Further performances are planned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Nelsons in a future season. When Glanert heard of Knussen's passing it was inevitable that the composer would become the inner protagonist of the new concerto. As the composer describes, "I see solo instruments and their gestures, motives, and themes in terms of personalities, as artificial persons in an invisible drama... My music tells you about the fates of these personalities."
Cast in four movements, the 25-minute concerto plays continuously. The opening Rites pits orchestral Sturm und Drang against lyricism, which finds its head in the central elegiac Songs section, described by the composer as a "leave-taking à la Mahler". A Knussen theme emerges with a long-short, long-short pattern (Ol-ly Knus-sen) which is developed further in the scherzo-like Dances section, capturing Kussen's joie de vivre and humour. The final Invocation section forms a benediction which provided for Glanert a way of "giving Knussen his own personal heaven".
"The concerto grabbed the listener by heart and mind... Set in four attacca movements, it seamlessly evolved from storm and stress, to the blues, and ultimately to a poignant farewell to the composer’s beloved friend."
Boston Musical Intelligencer
"Glanert's piece grabbed you by the collar and wouldn't let go, thanks to both the writing and a virtuoso performance by trumpeter Thomas Rolfs... Switching between standard and piccolo trumpets, Rolfs was commanding, whatever the role, and the student orchestra under Nelsons provided vivid support."
The 2019/20 season brings three orchestral premieres by Glanert. Allegro Furibondo, a four-minute curtain raiser, receives first performances by the Bamberg Symphony under Jakub Hrusa and the Philharmonie Zuidnederland with Olari Elts in September and October. Ballàbili is a suite of 'three dances for two orchestras' drawn from his highly successful new opera Oceane, with first performance by the Osnabrück Symphony under Andreas Hotz in December. Midori is soloist next May in Glanert's new Violin Concerto No.2 with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach.
Other Glanert season highlights include twin outings for his Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch at the Barbican in London on 7 December - the grand finale of a BBC Symphony Orchestra Total Immersion Day devoted to the composer - and at Prague's Rudolfinum in March with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, both conducted by Semyon Bychkov.
> Further information on Work: Konzert für Trompete und Orchester
Photo: Detlev Glanert with Thomas Rolfs at the concerto's Tanglewood premiere