“You hear this music in your mind and you want to share it with other human beings.” – Miguel Kertsman
New Orchestral album | London Philharmonic Orchestra, Dennis Russell Davies and solo virtuosi: Marina Piccinini, flute, Martin Kuuskmann, bassoon, Orsolya Korcsolan, violin, Gergely Sugar, Horn & Shofar | a Naxos Records global release
Concerto Brasileiro for Flute, Strings and Percussion (2005)
Miguel Kertsman composed his Concerto Brasileiro for Flute, Strings and Percussion on commission from the Austrian Flute Society and soloist Marina Piccinini in 2005. The opening movement, Overture, Bagunça, begins with a splash of colour and proceeds along a rather modernistic path with string glissandi and extended techniques for the soloist. Eventually, competing forces of lyricism and modernity coalesce into a seductive dance, capped by a cadenza-like coda from the soloist. The second movement, Choro (a reworking of an earlier piece written c. 1990), opens with an extended duet for flute and cello, their sinuous lines interacting with and complementing each other. Miguel Kertsman adds percussive colour from a pandeiro (a Brazilian hand drum similar to a tambourine) before strings introduce a more solemn idea, soon joined by the flute. The third movement, Repentes, Baião, Xaxado con brio, commences attacca and launches into an infectiously rhythmic dance. Miguel Kertsman composed the lyrical, modal Repente theme for a Concerto for Strings when he was only 19 and, having a special fondness for it, has repurposed it in other works as well.
Concerto for Violin, Horn, Shofar and Orchestra (2013)
The Concerto for Violin, Horn, Shofar and Orchestra announces its propensity for uncommon sonorities at the outset – a trio consisting of solo violin, shofar and bass clarinet, supported by splashes of percussion. The shofar – part of Jewish tradition – is an ancient instrument, originally made from a ram’s horn. It resembles a berrante, played by cattle rangers in the hinterlands of Brazil, thus demonstrating the commonality in widely divergent folk traditions. Orsolya Korcsolan (violin) and Gergely Sugar (horn/shofar) travel through the work with dazzling virtuosity and beautiful playing.
Journey for Bassoon and Orchestra (2012)
Miguel Kertsman titled his bassoon concerto Journey for Bassoon and Orchestra, reflecting some of the paths he and his long-time friend Martin Kuuskmann have travelled, both musically and geographically. He began writing the piece in 2012, developing it from a piece for bassoon and piano he and Kuuskmann had premiered at the Blaine Music Festival in 2010. The outer movements are named after the cities of their births (Tallinn for Kuuskmann, and Recife for Kertsman); the central panel on the map, New York, has been a centre of activity (one of many) for the composer.
Chamber Symphony No. 2, ‘New York of 50 Doors’ (2015)
Miguel Kertsman’s Chamber Symphony No. 2 presents a vivid and colourful portrait of the city that never sleeps. The Vienna Symphony Chamber Orchestra (and its conductor, Gergely Sugar, who is also the horn soloist on this recording) commissioned the work in 2014 and premiered it in 2015. Because they requested a ‘jazzy piece’, Miguel Kertsman repurposed two main themes and the episodic modulations, representing different sounds and cultures present in NYC, from an earlier work, New York of 50 Doors. Miguel Kertsman avoids expressive leaps, suggesting a city with an incredibly rich cultural diversity that is busy and complex, active and focused.
Text: Frank K. DeWald
Photos: Elle Halley