MacMillan Trombone Concerto reviews from Amsterdam
The new Trombone Concerto by James MacMillan was premiered in April at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and travels on with soloist Jörgen van Rijen to Antwerp, Geneva, Oulu, Cottbus and Dallas.
James MacMillan travelled to Amsterdam for the world premiere of his Trombone Concerto, the latest in an admired series of recent works for solo instrument and orchestra. Written for Dutch trombonist Jörgen van Rijen, whose solo career has introduced a number of concertos by leading contemporary composers, the 25-minute work was launched in April by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Iván Fischer. Further performances see the Trombone Concerto journeying with van Rijen to orchestras in Antwerp, Geneva, Oulu, Cottbus and Dallas.
"The new work proved to be vintage MacMillan. There’s a wonderful mixture of timbres, sacral glowing melodies, rich chording and ear-splitting eruptions of sound – all in a kaleidoscopic form with a unifying hymn theme… it works in MacMillan’s hands, perhaps because of the magical orchestration, in which liquid woodwinds drip through a fine sonic mesh of harp and vibraphone. Or where unusual echoes follow one another in strings, piano and harp. Or when sudden apocalyptic cacophony emerges from percussion, brass and a siren."
"This magnificent concerto enriches the repertoire... The trombone sang, sang, sang… then suddenly a spectacular mating dance of four trombones à la Stockhausen. At the very end van Rijen and MacMillan struck me down completely: between the serene harmonies which came to a moment of rest, the trombone once more entered with a heart-breaking eruption… the wonderful beauty of despair… It is a concerto for eternity, and trombone players could use one."
This autumn brings the world premiere of a new MacMillan work for soprano, choir and orchestra, commissioned by the Shrine of Fátima as part of the pilgrimage site’s centenary programme. The celebrations remember the series of Marian apparitions to three children in 1917 culminating in the prediction of a divine visitation on 13 October which attracted over 50,000 to travel to the town, many seeing the sun dancing across the heavens.
The composer describes how "The Sun Danced will receive its premiere in the Basilica at Fátima exactly 100 years after the Miracle of the Sun. The miraculous events made this unremarkable little Portuguese town famous throughout the world, and provided the focus of an amazing ongoing spiritual phenomenon." Two days after the Fátima premiere, the Gulbenkian Orchestra and Choir conducted by Joana Carneiro perform the 15-minute work in Lisbon.
> Further information on Work: Trombone Concerto
Photo: Philip Gatward