Daily Telegraph, 3 September 2007
Geoffrey Norris reviews the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Belohlávek at Albert Hall
The Daily Telegraph
Thea Musgrave was in the hall last night to hear the première of her beguiling new concerto for oboe, percussion and orchestra called Two’s Company. The title says it all.
This is a musical courtship, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Belohlávek acting as facilitators in a romance between a pair of seemingly incompatible instrumental forces.
In an almost theatrical, and certainly poetic, way, the piece conjures up the hopes, doubts, difficulties and resolutions of a relationship, and the fact that all the performers embraced one another at the end seemed to signal that everything had turned out well.
The couple in question here were the oboist Nicholas Daniel and percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie.
The opening of the concerto is marked “desolate, lonely”, featuring the oboe in disconsolate phrases against seductive percussion of mellow tones. Playfulness and then tensions ensue, with the percussionist turning intimidatingly towards the more robust instruments in her arsenal.
The oboist moves tentatively around the platform, the two protagonists circling and eyeing one another and gradually reaching an understanding on the firm foundation of a C major chord.
The instruction to be “warm” in the penultimate section had shifted to “passionate” in the final one, the music correspondingly reflecting a growing sense both of ease and of exultation.
Beautifully played here, Two’s Company had at its root a cunning idea that married music to an eternal emotional conundrum, and, with the orchestral commentary and encouragement, was acted out with a poignancy that will have brought a smile of recognition or remembrance to many a listener.