ALBUM TITLE: Macrae
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Two Scenes from the Death of Count Ugolino; Motus; Stirling Choruses
PERFORMER: Loré Lixenberg (mezzo-soprano), Christian Tetzlaff (violin); BBC Scottish SO/Ilan Volkov; BCMG/Susanna Mälkki
CATALOGUE NO: D 115
The premiere of Stuart MacRae’s Violin Concerto at the 2001 Proms cemented his reputation and transformed him at the age of 25 from a hugely promising talent into a composer of real stature and maturity. Christian Tetzlaff is one of a number of violinists to have taken the Concerto into their repertory, and his performance on this disc is dazzling. He takes every technical challenge in his stride, and perfectly articulates both the fragile, constantly changing relationship between the soloist and the orchestra and MacRae’s intriguing four-movement plan which reverses concerto convention and sites its emotional centre of gravity in the fiercely eloquent finale.
If nothing else on this disc has quite the cumulative power of the Concerto, all three other pieces share its formal lucidity and capacity for vivid musical image-making. Two Scenes from the Death of Count Ugolino conjures up an especially gruesome episode from Dante’s Inferno, underpinning the expressionist writing for the mezzo-soprano Loré Lixenberg with dark, slithering instrumental lines, while in Motus (2003) the sextet writing is a fluid hybrid between soloistic and ensemble textures, and Stirling Choruses sets two groups of brass instruments in opposition to generate abrasive, Xenakis-like outbursts; each sound world is distinct and perfectly realised. Andrew Clements