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If it is a piece of theatre, rather than a concerto, than there are only really two characters here: soloist and orchestra. In that sense, at least, the work has its roots in tradition. But this is not a concerto cast in black and white. Rather, Barry offers up a recourse to the antiphonal exchanges of the Baroque concerto, refracted and reinterpreted through his own unforgiving and rather brutalist lens. There is plenty of colour here but instead of the sweeping brushstrokes of romanticism, the lines blurred and muddied, Barry gives us an unforgiving cubist landscape, clean-cut and unwavering. And rather than establishing itself as a three-dimensional web of support around the soloist, the orchestra posits itself as the opposition. Throughout the whole concerto, the two barely play together at all. Instead, as in so much of Barry’s music, the score is carved into blocks, the soloist and orchestra butting up against one another in bold vertical lines. It is a conversation, but an abrasive one, the piano interjecting dense chromatic clusters in each of the orchestra’s rests, the orchestra responding with terse, unrelenting insistence. As all arguments must, this one reaches a crisis point too, with orchestra and soloist (and an orchestral piano, too, just for good measure) coming together for a cacophonous ‘Storm’ episode towards the concerto’s end. It is a blistering moment, over almost as quickly as it began, the full force of the orchestra unleashed and then spent, the conflict seemingly still unresolved.
from notes by Jo Kirkbride © 2020
|Beethoven: Symphonies Nos 1-3; Barry: Beethoven & Piano Concerto|
These much-anticipated recordings were made during the Britten Sinfonia's three-year Beethoven symphony project. Conductor Thomas Adès interleaves Beethoven’s masterworks with the audacious and sometimes explosive music of the wonderfully idiosync ...» More