Review: BBC NOW - Americana Concert #1 @ Hoddinott Hall
The America At The Movies concert was a rare and inspired event, which will stay in the memory for some time.
But BBC NOW stays across the pond for their Americana series taking place at the Hoddinott Hall, their home in the WMC.
For the next few months, these afternoon concerts will give us an all-American programme. An exciting prospect and one that will no doubt pay off.
Our presenter for this live radio event was Fiona Talkington, who linked up with Fred Childs all the way in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He is America’s most famous radio presenter of classical music and has a smooth, easy listening sort of voice that could set you to sleep. He will be ‘present’ at all the concerts and giving us his insight into the music. A much welcome extra to these humble concerts.
The opening was Virgil Thomson’s Three Pictures For Orchestra. A stern work that was very modern for the time and set the tone for later music: both the modern and the melodic. The soloist for Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto was BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, Elena Urioste. In a prerecording, she spoke of the ‘devilish’ moments to play, especially in the unrelenting third movement, Presto In Moto Perpetuo. It certainly is an acute work, yet one of the best violin concertos to come from the US from the last century. Its sheer romantic flare and blurry imagery made for thrilling listening. Her playing was like a bat out of hell and we hope to see her again in our capital soon.
Aaron Copland heralded in part two with his Inscape. This is certainly not the Copland we know and love. It’s an experiment in which he was happy to try out once in a blue moon. His most famous work such as Fanfare For The Common Man and Appalachian Spring, are moving, delightful and charming. This is miles away in his head here. It’s his last orchestral work and it is quite shocking. The orchestra belted it out and we accepted it for what it was.
And so, ending like so many concerts, a concerto to see us off from none other than Walter Piston. Even Childs spoke of how uncertain he was of his music and a performance of his 6th Symphony should persuade him otherwise. It did and the audience was very pleased to hear that. It has quite formulaic and requires multiple hearings to be properly digested after the onslaught of this music of the USA.
Three more concerts?
Bring ‘em on!
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