POUL RUDERS (b.1949): Concerto in Pieces (Purcell Variations for Orchestra), Violin Concerto No. 1, Monodrama for Percussion and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 08L100
Description: Commissioned for the Last Night of the 1996 Proms, Concerto in Pieces is a set of variations on a theme by Purcell (no, a different one), and like Britten's piece, which served as a model, it gives a lively and entertaining tour of the orchestra, less didactic in intent, but no less colorful. In keeping with the tone of the event, the work is thoroughly approachable, tonal (with some listener-friendly excursions into exotic sound effects) and entertaining. The violin concerto is similarly an approachable work with teasing echoes of earlier music - in this case, Vivaldi's Four Seasons and a song from Schubert's Winterreise. Throughout the music is open and airy, if tinged with wistfulness in the middle movement and wintry melancholy in the last, with well-defined (if somewhat ambiguously treated) tonal centres. The percussion concerto, Monodrama, described by the composer as 'pretty grim' presents a contrasting aspect of his character. Angry and protesting, with the percussion part largely unpitched, the work rises out of sullen opening gestures and embarks on a tense, driven musical journey with a strong sense of momentum and flow - passages of repeating rhythmic structure provide episodes of stable motion, essential for aural navigation in the absence of much in the way of harmonic argument - but very little that sounds like the presentation and development of thematic material, making its cogency and single-mindedness of direction all the more remarkable. Erik Heide (violin), Mathias Reumert (percussion), Aarhus Symphony Orchestra; Thomas Søndergård.