MARTIN SUCKLING (b.1981): Piano Concerto, The White Road for Flute an Orchestra, Release, This Departing Landscape.
Catalogue Number: 02W079
Description: A highly original and inventive composer, Suckling writes music that transports the listener to landscapes of tactile, photographic vividness, sensuous and immersive. To this end, he employs techniques that range from emphatic tonality to noise textures, freely blended and juxtaposed with an unfailing sense of color and paradoxical logic and inevitability. Epitomizing this approach is the remarkable Release, inspired by - wait for it - the irresistible compulsion to clap one’s hands upon entering a reverberant space. Towering, massive, simple common chords immediately 'decay' into a reverberating cloud of rich, constantly evolving microtonal harmonies. The half-hour Piano Concerto also spirals, or effloresces, outward from a central impulse, in this case supplied by the exuberant piano part. A poem by Scots poet Niall Campbell, in which a singer's proliferating inspiration begins with earthly celebrations and is gradually revealed to be singing creation into existence, provided the impetus for the work. The first movement sees the piano in vigorous counterpoint with orchestral groups, its swirling figurations like a flock of Messiaen's birds. Three intermezzi - the first fast and motoric, the second surrounding bell-like chords with a halo of microtonal resonance, the third treating piano and orchestra as untuned percussion - preface a stately, melodic passacaglia which expands like a galactic spiral. This Departing Landscape takes its title from the vividly visual conceit of music flowing around the listener into the past like a receding landscape. The first section is relentlessly active and dynamic, constantly propelled past the listener in fugitive fragments which become increasingly cohesive, weightier and drawn into chordal, tonal harmony, while in the second, time is frozen into glacial stillness in beautiful tectonic planes of gradual transformation, imperceptibly metamorphosing into microtonal clusters and then noise, finally dismissed by an accelerating pulsation. The White Road is a flute concerto, after the serene, quasi-luminous porcelain installations of Edmund de Waal. The melodic, exotic flute part is accompanied by an enhaloing orchestra of 'virtual flutes' - flautando strings - as it passes through seven landscapes, or adventures; attempting to subdue an argumentative, and later antagonistic, percussion section; enfolded in warm, lyrical string chords (very Verklärte Nacht, this); intoning a gorgeous, drifting melody, surrounded by a chirruping murmuration of birds, and finally escaping the combative drums and yapping brass by taking flight into the stratosphere. Tamara Stefanovich (piano), Katherine Bryan (flute), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic; Ilan Volkov.