JOHN PICKARD (b.1963): Piano Concerto, Sea-Change, Tenebrae.
Catalogue Number: 03O093
Description: Bold and colorful works, with the composer's familiar mastery of the orchestra, extended-tonal vocabulary and strong sense of architecture and proportion. The concerto is in three, linked movements; a driven, relentlessly energetic toccata, not unrelated to Prokofiev but with a jazzy tinge; a slow, rugged passacaglia inhabiting a chill, Nordic world of granite and ice; and an intricate double fugue of abundant rhythmic energy and Bernsteinian swagger and virtuosity. The tone-poem Sea-Change has something of Nielsen in its restless harmonic progressions, or of Sallinen in its relentless, pulsing ostinati and cumulative momentum. Tenebrae, as the title suggests, is a dark work, both in its predominant tonal palette and its associations; taking as a point de départ a fragment of Gesualdo, the work reflects on aspects of the Renaissance composer's life. A shadowy, ominous opening gives way to mounting agitation and a violent climax; then the music subsides, giving way to a somber second section in passacaglia form, based on the Gesualdo quotation. Fredrik Ullén (piano), Norrköping Symphony Orchestra; Martyn Brabbins.