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Bassoon concerto premiere was short but packed a punch; CLASSICAL ..... RLPO/Petrenko Philharmonic Hall.

Byline: GlynMonHughes

GARY Carpenter is a composer well-known to Liverpool audiences - at least to those who follow the ever-excellent Ensemble 10/10.

So far, though, Liverpool audiences have been denied larger-scale works, so the world premire of his bassoon concerto - a Royal Liverpool Philharmonic commission - was a welcome move.

It's only a short work - little more than 15 minutes - but it packed considerable punch in terms of the concentration of ideas and an uncanny depth of musical interest.

If there was one slight reservation that was that the large orchestra rather swamped the often delicate tones of the bassoon, ably played by the principal bassoonist of the RLPO, Alan Pendlebury.

The first movement opened in an understated chordal way but built, rapidly.

The solo line was jaunty but subsumed by the orchestra. Their accompaniment was built on two or three levels, each complementing and contrasting with each other.

In many ways, the melodies in this Milonga - the precursor of the tango - felt quite traditional but appeared to fragment as the piece progressed towards its rather sudden ending.

The second movement was a cerebral, languid creation which was ever pensive. The orchestral accompaniment often featured unresolved chords of seconds, which felt like little stabs of light in what was a darkly relaxed atmosphere.

The finale contained more angular melodies and was rhythmically highly inventive. In many ways it felt like a mini concerto for orchestra as so many instruments had striking solo lines: those angular lines for the bassoon solo echoed in the woodwind chorus, the percussion punctuating the whole texture and the soloist carrying on regardless.

A dynamic piece, in many ways, which was particularly memorable for being quite understated.

The concert opened with the delightful Symphonic Dances by Grieg. The opening movement contained some big statements, brought out fully by conductor Vasily Petrenko.

Throughout the work, charming folk-like melodies pervade the score, none more so than in the charming second movement, with delightfully lilting melodies. The energetic third movement merged into the big statements of the finale, a fine performance full of energy and power.

Sibelius's Fifth Symphony in its 1919 revision closed the concert, Petrenko building up the movement from a slow, languid opening to a massive climax which suddenly simply stops.

The entwined textures of the slow movement were finely worked while the finale was tumultuous - though why it suddenly slowed about a third of the way through was something of a mystery.


Alan Pendlebury, RLPO principal bassoon Picture: Mark McNulty
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 11, 2011
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