Out of the Silence, John McLeod, Music Review International by John France.
23rd of July 2018.
The Percussion Concerto is by far the longest work on this CD, running to some 27 minutes. It was composed in 1987 for the present soloist Dame Evelyn Glennie. The work is conceived in five movements: Cortege with Fanfares, Scherzo I, Nightscape (Callanish), Scherzo II and Aubade with Fanfares. The Concerto could be defined as a homage to Bartok with its inverted arch form and central night-music section reminiscent of the Hungarian composer’s Fourth String Quartet (and other works). The score calls for a vast array of percussion instruments, including the timps, side drum, cymbal, marimba, temple blocks, tom toms, cow bells, mark tree, chinese cymbals, vibraphone, crotales and gongs. It is an impressive range that requires sheer virtuosity in performance. The highlight of this Concerto (for me) is the haunting Nightscape. This music is an evocation of the Stone Circle at Callanish on the Isle of Lewis. It is a perfect fusion of percussion, French horn and strings creating a wonderful sense of stasis and timelessness that is both moving and impressive. There is exciting music in the two scherzos and the work concludes with a Messiaenic (or is it Ravelian) ‘dawn chorus’ which builds up into a whopping climax. The liner notes explain that like the Connection, this concerto introduces controlled improvisation. Despite all this interesting and fascinating music, I am not convinced about the Percussion Concerto. I have listened to this work right through twice in preparing this review. I guess I just do not quite get it. I know not why.