Alexis Alrich: Marimba Concerto & Vivaldi: Piccolo Recorder Concerto in C |UK Review: Bachtrack

[Glennie gave] an electric performance of composer Alexis Alrich’s Marimba Concerto, its UK première. World-premièred in Hong Kong in 2009 by the Hong Kong City Orchestra, this action-packed piece injected fresh energy into the whole room. It is one of the most interesting concert compositions I have seen on stage in Bristol and it stole the show.

Alrich’s style, “California Impressionism”, is inspired by French Impressionism, American Minimalism and Asian music. The score had a similar energetic and rhythmic feel to the film scores of Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer, whilst intricately exploring the marimba. The dexterity required for the marimba part was perfectly suited to the ever-amazing Dame Evelyn Glennie. Her agile performance makes her fascinating to watch in concert. She becomes part of the instrument, expressively leaning into it and using her whole body to create the sounds she desires.

The awe-inspiring solo percussionist entered in leather trousers and immediately stole my attention from anything else on stage. […] Glennie had an acute awareness of the orchestra throughout both percussion concertos and was able to adjust dynamics effortlessly to fit. Her performance was bold and truly tireless. The tone she achieved with the marimba was so wholesome it almost sounded electronic, which gave a completely new dimension to the orchestration.

[…]

Not only is she good at playing the instruments, she is also good at arranging for them. The highlight for the orchestra in this concert was Vivaldi’s Flautino Concerto in C major. Arranged by Evelyn Glennie for vibraphone and orchestra, this was an old concerto spiced up. The piece was much more lenient with tempi than the original, giving Glennie the chance to revel in the lovely metallic sound of the vibraphone. Her impressive speed in the contrapuntal melody lines was Paganini-esque to the point that the speed of her mallets was similar to that of a hummingbird’s wings. This was an inspirational performance.

Bristol Ensemble
Conductor: Ben Gernon
Colston Hall, Bristol
12 March 2013



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