Deep Time is "one of Birtwistle’s finest orchestral achievements"

13 July 2017

Harrison Birtwistle's major new orchestral work 'Deep Time' received its world premiere on Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 June at the Berlin Philharmonie and Konzerthaus respectively, with the Berlin Staatskapelle conducted by Daniel Barenboim.

Co-commissioned by the BBC Proms, the UK premiere was on Sunday 16 July with the same forces.

The title takes its starting point from the work of the 18th century Scottish philosopher James Hutton, who proposed that the processes of rock erosion, sedimentation and formation have 'no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end', an idea which has influenced Birtwistle's thinking about music.

“It’s an immensely powerful, sometimes breathtakingly beautiful work, one of Birtwistle’s finest orchestral achievements, and already played with astonishing assurance by Barenboim and his orchestra.” – Andrew Clements, The Guardian ****

“The work was inspired by the vast slowness of geological time, and the way this slowness is occasionally riven by sudden catastrophes and slippages. The piece itself revealed a more human scale, with a melancholy cor anglais solo arousing memories of Birtwistle’s earlier processionals, and moments of pulsating energy in marimbas and plucked cellos. It was grandly impressive, in an inscrutable sort of way.” – Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph *****

“Birtwistle’s fingerprints are all over this new work — the fascination with layers of time, the growling echoes of the distant past, the rhythmic tread of passing years, each as distinctive as ever.” – Richard Fairman, The Financial Times ****

You can read a full interview on 'Deep Time' here.

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