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Slidel-Classical-Reviews Blog

May 24, 2022

Martin Slidel

May 25, 2022 Ruders Esfahani (hpd); Aarhus Symphony Orchestra (cond. Segerstam)OUR Recordings (2022)

New this month on OUR Recordings is Mahan Esfahani’s incredible performance of Poul Ruders’ 2020 ‘Harpsichord Concerto’ with the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leif Segerstam. (OK. I think I know what a digital EP is...)
The first movement ‘Avanti risoluto’ is filmic and almost tender in its careful but inevitable escalation. There is an oddly yet entirely pleasing synthetic quality, engendered by the amplification of orchestral instruments. It is in this manner that the blend of sound is achieved. The effect itself is, of course, unique. And very distant from any historic mould in familiarity with Baroque works by Vivaldi, for example. The otherworldly mesh of strings and brass is strange but wonderous indeed; a mellow foil to the sparkly and spiky solo. The next movement ‘Andante’ is a touch more romantic (with a small ‘r’) although Modernist and spacey. Single notes on each beat cut in and out of the complex soundscape. At close, this solo ‘line’ inverts, reaching deeper, before rebuilding to chordal strikes.
The final movement ‘Vivace Martellato alla breve’ comprises an extraordinary attack of chords – but with a simultaneous ‘light’ touch. Again, related to the manipulation of orchestral volume. Impossible to conjecture its achievement, outside any intimate knowledge of the harpsichord. Aural threads; several layers of texture; between the solo and orchestral instruments, intertwine. The compositional variation, in constant flux, brings lesser-heard voices such as castanets to the fore. The overall effect is whirring, trammelling, and somehow trainlike. Each mechanism seems to smash and then meld to the non-closure... to the heart of everything new. Martin Slidel, May 25th 2022