Monday, September 11, 2006

PREMIERE://Fujikura's Crushing Twister

By George Hall
From The Guardian - Wednesday August 30, 2006

It's surprising to see a composer of whom Pierre Boulez approves being championed by an outfit that more regularly specialises in light music, but the latest piece by Dai Fujikura was premiered in the BBC Concert Orchestra's Prom under its new principal guest conductor, Charles Hazlewood.
Crushing Twister developed from a chance encounter with the skills of DJing in an East London school, where the Japanese-born, UK-based, Fujikura teaches composition. With an orchestra divided into three groups - the central group supplying material that those on either side simulate scratching, as if on turntables - the work emulates DJing techniques while sounding unlike anything a clubber might encounter.
It made a bold contemporary intervention in a Prom largely focused on the influence of jazz on classical music. Presenting the programme himself with easy eloquence, Hazlewood began with a spry account of Ibert's irresistible Divertissement, whose popular elements derive more from the Parisian boulevards than from New Orleans. Three Kurt Weill songs represented a more authentic blend of American usages with European music-theatre traditions. The South African mezzo Pauline Malefane sang one each in Xhosa, German and English, and while each item needed more interpretative definition her warm, wide-ranging tone was an undoubted asset.
Rhapsody in Blue was an almost inevitable programme constituent. The sheer glamour of Gershwin's musical ideas maintained their allure despite being somewhat undersold by Kevin Cole's careful pianism and Hazlewood's over-objective conducting. But Bernstein's ballet score Fancy Free sounded desperately thin as a concert item, even in such a slick and sassy account as this.

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