Sisi Burn, photo

Monday, July 24, 2023

Royal Albert Hall, London

Portions Transparent/Opaque (BBC commission: “world premiere of Portions 2 & 3” – Proms Guide) is a fascinating thirty-minute study in sound – distant, mostly quiet, skeletal, slowly ritualistic, and requiring a centuries-old tuning system – in part reminding of John Luther Adams’s music, such as Become Ocean,, maybe some of George Crumb’s output, too. Perhaps their fellow-American Catherine Lamb has a message for us, as the environmentalist Adams does, although Portions Transparent/Opaque seems without an agenda, beyond music, managing to be transporting yet also requiring focused listening to engage with many subtleties, sustained impressively by the BBC Scottish and Ilan Volkov (they premiered Portion 1) and went on to give Tchaikovsky Six, at once symphonic and suggestive of autobiography – evocative, passionate, powerful; suave and shapely (the 5/4 second movement); exhilarating while avoiding a breakneck tempo (the subsequent march), and straight into the slow Finale (which shut the clappers up), impassioned if sadly resigned to the ultimate fate (played tenderly) yet also searing until fading from earshot… a longer silence would have fitted…

BBCSSO/Volkov; undated.