Knocking at the Hellgate

Brett Dean 6235 (Mark Coulsen) LOW RESThe TSO’s New Creations Festival wrapped up last night at Roy Thomson Hall with a concert featuring Brett Dean’s suite Knocking at the Hellgate, drawn from his 2004 opera Bliss.  But first came a piece by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood.  Water is a tone poem (if one can still use that term) inspired by soome lines from Philip Larkin:

If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.

Written for a chamber orchestra including two tanpuras and amplified piano, it’s an atmospheric piece mixing elements of minimalism and dissonance with extended techniques in the strings and note bending in an extremely competent way.  A fairly gentle introduction to what was to follow!

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