Left - Conductor Brett Dean
Glittering Walkways is the fourth and final concert of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Metropolis program. Showcasing contemporary music from the 20th and 21st centuries, Glittering Walkways presents musical compositions from Australia and around the world.
The concert opens with the world premiere of Paul Castles, Aurelian Unturning. According to Castles, the title is an allusion to the archaic word for 'lepidopterist' - one who studies butterflies. As a wider metaphor for chrysalis, Aurelian Unturning is a musical flight in which transformation is embraced as a process of "inter-thematic mutation and metamorphosis rather than violence and conflict". Gentle and effervescent, Aurelian Unturning is an enigmatic and rich composition, enlivened by the swirling interplay of piano and harp. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra deftly manoeuvre through Castles composition of transformation and emergence.
The second composition of the evening is Georges Lentz's Caeli enarrant…III. Conductor Brett Dean introduces Lentz as a composer who has "enriched the compositional world". Caeli enarrant…III, which translates as “the heavens are telling”, is a reference to “Psalm XIX’s vision of the cosmos as the embodiment and proof of divine agency”. As Dean explains, Lentz was inspired by the sight of the stars which filled his ears with music. This inspiration is heralded in Caeli enarrant…III, not only by haunting violins, but also through the expansive silences which saturate the composition. Punctuated by sporadic pizzicati, Caeli enarrant…III unfurls gradually. As its conclusion draws near, 14 year old boy soprano Marcus Bordignon provides soaring, emancipatory vocals, evocatively canvassing for the audience the mysterious marvels of space.
The quiet elegance of Lentz's Caeli enarrant…III is then juxtaposed with the erratic hyperactivity of Mary Finsterer’s Ruisselant. Ruisselant, which means “streaming”, is a dense and elaborate composition. According to Finsterer, the composition delineates a complex convergence of string harmonics, “movement and time, a momentum being created through incessant waves of streams interlocking or compounding, creating complexity of texture through infectious activity and movement”. In their performance of Ruisselant, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra savagely plunge the audience beneath the appearance of serenity to the hyperactivity within, before it all cuts to a sudden silence.
Inspired by Melbourne's city laneways, Keith Humbles Arcade V gushes with the swarming commotion of Melbourne's thousands. Originally written for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Glittering Walkways brings Arcade V back to Melbourne concert life after a 34 year hiatus. Intense and extravagant, the piece erupts with marching-style percussion and the ascension of dynamic string inflections.
Glittering Walkways finishes on a tremendous note with the Australian premier of Thomas Ades' one movement symphony Tevot. The Hebrew word “tevot” has multiple meanings including “word”, “bars of music” and the “ark of Noah”. Tevot is sweeping and epic. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s tempestuous machinations of rhythm and melody resound from the stage with precision and presence. Their music ignites the imagination, vividly evoking the heaving ark, magnanimously carving its way through the water. With a combination of soaring strings and enfolding percussion, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra immerse the intimacy of the CUB Malthouse with majesty and wonder.
Conductor Brett Dean introduced the Metropolis series by commenting on how vital the program is for young composers. However, an evening with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra demonstrates that Metropolis is also a series which dusts off astonishing works from established contemporary composers, emboldening their music for both new and old audiences.
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Venue: CUB Malthouse
Date/Time: Saturday 10 May at 8pm