PHILIPPE BOESMANS (b.1936): Violin Concerto, Capriccio for 2 Pianos and Orchestra, Fin de nuit for Piano and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 10V049
Description: The Violin Concerto, from 1979, is very different in some ways from the much more recent works with piano, though all three share the rich, almost overpowering, sonic alchemy of Boesmans' extraordinary orchestral technique. The work is an exuberant celebration of what a violin concerto can do, with an extravagantly virtuosic solo part, amplified and extended by the large orchestral forces; an amusing anecdote from the recording sessions has the composer exclaiming at the profusion of notes, which he attributes to the time at which the piece was written. Two offstage ensembles emerge in dreamlike dialogue with the soloist; while the concerto is less overtly tonal than the more recent pieces, Boesmans almost casually or playfully interjects grandiose Romantic gestures at key moments, as though emphatically recalling its ancestry. The cadenza, which multiplies and proliferates throughout the orchestral strings, is a thrilling master-stroke. Capriccio couldn’t have a better title; it defines capriciousness and hectic joie de vivre in music, with its throwaway references to Gershwin and Messiaen. What it isn’t, though, is some lightweight bagatelle; playing for a quarter hour, it develops passages of terrifying momentum, and episodes of melting, surrealistic, otherworldly lyricism. Fin de nuit is the nearest to a big, Romantic piano concerto we're ever likely to get from Boesmans, and it’s a resoundingly successful one, with his very personal stylistic fingerprints all over it (and, characteristically, some of the orchestral sonorities are simply astonishing). More tonal than the other works here, it begins with a movement for the orchestra alone, a brooding miniature tone poem 'The Last Dream' which occupies an almost Mahlerian nocturnal world. Daylight bursts in in the much longer second part of the diptych, 'Flights', an exuberant concerto full of grand Romantic gestures and virtuosity, which falls into sections; active and energetic; static and suspenseful but interrupted by fleeting 'scherzi'; and a sudden reassuringly upbeat conclusion. The concerto was written immediately after the opera Pinocchio (03T062), and there are many traces of the dark, irrational, fairytale world of that work here. George Tudorache (violin), David Kadouch, Julien Libeer (pianos), Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège; Gergely Madaras.