ROBERT GROSLOT (b.1951): Violin Concerto, Concerto for Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 08U060
Description: Composer-conductor-pianist Groslot has drawn on his years of expertise as performer to write extensively in concerto form, a genre that he has embraced enthusiastically, having written more than twenty to date. These two recent examples are strongly tonal, bracingly energetic and thoroughly approachable without being in any way conservative and predictable. The large four-movement Concerto for Orchestra is a virtuosic orchestral tour de force, as the best examples of this genre should be - Groslot's attention to nuances of instrumentation even in massed tutti, and the ample opportunities he provides for the spotlighting of individual players' and sections' virtuosity provide an object lesson in how this sort of thing should be done, quite apart from the thrilling momentum of the work as a whole. The first movement, 'Exordium' is, as the title implies, expository; the composer delightedly shows off his palette of orchestral colours, then proceeds to use his delicious timbral combinations in a series of episodes ranging from wildly exultant to crystalline limpidity. The playful second movement, 'Hoketus' flings ideas around the orchestra in a 'game of duos' that at one point pays explicit homage to Bartók's work. The third movement is a mysterious, silken-textured nocturne, a darkly glowing landscape in shades of ultramarine and cobalt, scarcely disturbed by the scurryings and distant fanfares carried through the still air. The finale synthesizes themes and gestures from previous movements in an increasingly brilliant and exciting race to the finish. The 2010 Violin Concerto is both a dazzling solo vehicle and an orchestral thrill-ride of, at times, startlingly frantic energy. Beginning with a mysterious introduction, the music soon breaks out into an irrepressibly propulsive section. Mysterious brass chords throw shadows over the scene, temporarily calming the music and ushering in the long, theatrical cadenza that sounds like some bardic recitation. With the entry of the orchestra another fast passage ensues (oddly,and persistently, seeming to want to break into the first movement of Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances). An elegant waltz hesitantly interrupts the action. This leads to an imposing climax after which the violin tries to introduce a jaunty finale, but the orchestra has other ideas and the final section is hectic and brutal, with a violently dismissive final gesture. Joanna Kurkowicz (violin), Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra; Robert Groslot.