With its Bartókian orchestra and climaxes, Bluebeard’s Castle is an experience of rare intensity. Bryce Dessner’s Violin Concerto reveals a new facet of a composer whose staggering scope ranges from rock to film, from ballet to orchestra music.
Created from the happy meeting of Bartók and librettist Béla Balázs, Bluebeard’s Castle was born of the desire to produce an opera in the Hungarian language. Like that of Maeterlinck and Debussy, this collaboration was a tremendous success: few works achieve the calibre of musical and dramatic intensity displayed in this ‘opera in one act, with a prologue’. Succinct and tightly woven, the story is heightened by an orchestra in brilliant, sometimes surreal colours, moving between climactic intensity and mournful layered sound—making this cruel and magnetic fable into a ‘symphonic poem with voice’.
The concert continues with a landmark event, the French premiere of Bryce Dessner’s Violin Concerto, entrusted to the silver bow of his dedicatee and long-time collaborator, Pekka Kuusisto. Dessner, a prodigious and polymorphous artist, who has worked with masters such as Philip Glass and Steve Reich, nimbly moves with equal skill from rock to film scores, from quartets to vocal works, from ballet to symphonic music. He is a prodigy of our time, revealing additional facets of his artistry with each new opus.