The last month has seen the release of two recordings that feature recent concertante works by Francisco Coll: his concertino for guitar and ensemble Turia, and his Dalí-inspired Double Concerto Les Plaisirs Illuminés. Both works were recorded by their respective commissioners: Turia (on BIS records) features Christian Karlsen conducting Norrbotten NEO with Jacob Kellermann as soloist, while Patricia Kopatchinkaja, Sol Gabetta and Camerata Bern have recorded the Double Concerto for Alpha, with the composer conducting. The latter disc also includes Coll’s LalulaLied, a 2-minute setting of a Christian Morgenstern’s nonsense poem that exploits Kopatchinskaja’s inimitable vocal abilities.
Turia was named the Dagens Nyheter’s Album of 2020 whilst Les Plaisirs Illuminés – Coll’s recording debut as a conductor – was Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine.
LES PLAISIRS ILLUMINÉS
Commissioned by Camerata Bern as part of Coll’s season as their Composer-in-Residence, the Double Concerto Les Plaisirs Illuminés for violin, cello and small orchestra was premiered in June 2019 with Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Sol Gabetta as soloists. The sheer density of invention present in this 20-minute work is staggering. The solo writing veers from rapt interior moments of dialogue to wild gestures of brilliant – but barbed – bravura. A small orchestra (20 players, each with their individual part) is utilised with extreme precision and flair, nowhere more so than in the hallucinatory third movement ‘Alegrías’ where the orchestral violins echo Kopatchinskaja’s forced, hyper-expressive channelling of cante flamenco in thrilling heterophony.
‘An exciting journey through some of the great names in 20th-century music with the addition of one of the greatest revelations of the 21st century: Francisco Coll, perhaps Spain’s leading international composer… Coll conducts the orchestra with efficacy… Lalulalied is a delightful game… a masterful miniature.’
Scherzo (Luis Suñén), 18 January 2021
‘The musical imagery in the fast-slow-fast-slow scheme certainly conveys the heightened, almost grotesquely vivid immediacy of surrealism, with the two solo instruments often pushed to their expressive and technical extremes.’
The Guardian (Andrew Clements), 14 January 2021
‘The soloists shape the composition together with the orchestra, from beautiful-sounding notes in the lullaby to caressing solo voices in the last movement. In this way, the pleasures mentioned in the CD’s title are valued with subtle illumination.’
Pizzicato (Uwe Krusch), 8 January 2021
‘[One] highlight is a double concerto by Coll, much in demand for his orchestral skills and sense of the fantastic. Kopatchinskaja’s violin, teamed with Gabetta’s cello, swings between straightforward beauty and high-speed slithering in 18 minutes of fun, flamenco, lament and danger.’
The Times (Geoff Brown), 13 January 2021
‘Coll’s complex textures have a glistening, viscous quality that approximates in sound the uneasy slipperiness of Dalí’s work. It pushes Kopatchinskaja and Gabetta to their technical and expressive limits in a sequence of closely woven, rhythmically exacting dialogues, punctuated by echoes on occasion of Berg and flamenco. At its centre is a beautiful ‘Wiegenlied’ that forms the first of its two slow movements and the work’s emotional kernel… Coll conducts it himself with admirable care.’
Gramophone (Tim Ashley), January 2021
Turia, an 18-minute work for guitar and seven players takes its name from the dried-up river in Valencia which now hosts gardens, fountains, cafés, and even an opera house by architect Santiago Calatrava.
‘As a child,’ Coll explains, ‘I used to walk in this unusual river, full of light, flowers and people. I always thought that one day I would write the music of this river. When Karlsen contacted me, I immediately knew that this was my opportunity to write a piece for guitar and ensemble with Spanish luminosity. This soundscape evokes the light and the respective shadows of my country.’ Flamenco is very much in the surface of this work, although it is always filtered through Coll’s distinctive sonorous imagination.
‘Like Rodrigo, Coll was born in Valencia, and Turia is named after the dry river bed that snakes through the city. He describes it as “my most flamenco-coloured work yet”, and the five movements conjure up a series of vividly coloured impressions, in which the outlines of Spanish dances are never far beneath the surface. But those references are only starting points; Coll’s prodigious melodic and rhythmic invention, and his remarkable ear for colour, are dazzling enough on their own terms.’
The Guardian (Andrew Clements), 14 January 2021
‘Broodingly dark and jubilantly earthy, flamenco fire one minute, funk stomping the next, here’s a work of continually arresting changing moods, pointed phrases and percussive timbres, fused together by [a] composer with [the] gift for catching and keeping our attention.’
The Times (Geoff Brown), 6 January 2021
'Turia is inspired by the dried-up river in his hometown of Valencia, which in a surreal way has been given a new life - with brutally steep throws between light and shadow. It is easy to see how the poet Lorca's "black rainbow" rises above this music.'
Dagens Nyheter (Martin Nyström), 6 December 2020