Harrison Birtwistle received a British Composer Award for Songs from the Same Earth on Tuesday 2nd December – an excellent start to what was a celebratory week of music at the Southbank Centre and elsewhere in the capital.
His new work for piano and orchestra, Responses: Sweet disorder and the carefully careless, which was given its world premiere in Munich earlier this year, saw its UK premiere at the Royal Festival Hall on Saturday 6th December, performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, who co-commissioned the work. It received a five-star review from Hilary Finch in The Times:
“This is a work of micro-precision and macro-energy, the outworkings of an intellect and a vast orchestra on the boil — and both at the top of their form. The score quivers with minute subdivisions of time and space, and intensely marked dynamics. Ear, mind and fingers are given a nonstop workout, as material fractures, explodes, collides and responds, sweet flute fragments blown on the wind, brass and multiple percussion soloists louring and leering. And under it all, that deep, dark sense of the earth itself breathing.”
The Southbank Centre weekend programme included other major compositions such as In Broken Images and Theseus Game, conducted by David Atherton and Geoffrey Paterson with the London Sinfonietta on 5th December, and The Axe Manual with Colin Currie and Tamara Stefanovich on 7th December.
The world premiere of Beyond the white hand; Construction for guitar player commissioned by the Julian Bream Trust took place at St John’s Smith Square on 4th December performed by Andrey Lebedev.