Vivian Fung’s Earworms received its world premiere. Next came Boris Giltburg’s fast-talking rendition of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2. After the intermission, Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 provided a more serious, expansive contrast to the lively chatter of the first half.
The National Arts Centre Orchestra and Alexander Shelley tonight and tomorrow premiere Canadian composer Vivian Fung’s new work “Earworms”, taking it to Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall at the weekend. The piece, an NAC commission, plays with memorable melodies and motifs that have plagued the composer.
Alexander makes his debut in Finland this week, performing an all-German programme with the Helsinki Philharmonic.
The programme begins with Wolfgang Rihm’s 2002 score ‘Verwandlung’, a fifteen minute work for symphony orchestra that echoes motifs of Mahler, Strauss, Bruckner and Berg in a sound world that is distant and dream-like.
Alexander Shelley’s latest record release with the National Arts Centre Orchestra is now available to buy, both online and in stores, and is accessible on all major streaming services.
The album includes the premiere recording of Ana Sokolović’s “Golden Slumbers Kiss Your Eyes” – an NAC commission featuring counter tenor David DQ Lee alongside the combined Ottawa choruses – as well as Dvorák’s 9th Symphony ‘from the New World’.
Alexander Shelley has been Principal Associate Conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra since 2015. The focal point of his work with the orchestra is an annual four concert series at Cadogan Hall which he curates, based around a thematic concept. Previous incarnations have included ‘The Roaring Twenties’, exploring the explosion of musical styles and voices during the inter-war period, and last year’s ‘Symphonic Soundscapes’, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution by chronicling the music of Sibelius and Prokofiev.
The world premiere of Walter Boudreau’s Concerto de l’asile, written for pianist Alain Lefèvre, took place in 2013 with the Montreal Symphony. Reviews of the evening describe how the hapless French guest conductor botched the opening so badly he had to bring the performance to a screeching halt after a few minutes, mumble an apology, and then start again.
With such an inauspicious debut, it’s not surprising that Lefèvre and Boudreau candidly stated in their pre-concert chat that as far as they were concerned, Tuesday’s performance with Alexander Shelley and NACO was the concerto’s “real” premiere.