At God Speeded Summer’s End
The BBC Philharmonic played to a full and enthusiastic house on Saturday, in a programme consisting of Mahler’s Second Symphony and world premiere of a new work by young English composer Kenneth Hesketh.
At God speeded summer’s end (the title comes from Dylan Thomas’ Prologue) is, in the composer’s words, a procession of schezos constructed on the same formal ideas as Dylan’s poem, complete with its own acrostic pattern, At a time when many new works declare affinities with a poem or a painting - even a line of philosophy - it was heartening to receive the composer’s explanation of exactly how a piece of music relates to its supposed source of inspiration.
All the same, interesting and invaluable though this information is, it rarely impacts on the listener’s experience, particularly at first hearing. Nevertheless, each section had its own character, ranging from mystical to hard-driven and climatic. Hints of a dance seemed to bubble beneath the surface, never coming up for air but breathing life into the fast flowing stream of sound. Punctuated through with climaxes, all the music’s accumulated energy exploded dramatically in the final moments.
14 November 2000
Hesketh, whose name may not be familiar to readers but on this evidence soon will be. In under 15 minutes, he built up a convincing structure, spikily scored with flashes of Waltonian electricity and showing a musicianly aptitude for knowing just when to relax tension and when to tighten the screw again. This was emphatically not one of those noisy exercises in orchestration going nowhere. It knew exactly where it was going and got there.
19 November 2000
It says much for Kenneth Hesketh’s At God speeded summer’s end that memories of its fierce driving energy were not eclipsed by the Mahler. His title is from Dylan Thomas’ Prologue, and his music is a fireball of energy, such as one might expect of the scherzo of an Elliot Carter symphony. The young Liverpool-born composer has already made his mark in America and Germany, and on this evidence it is easy to see why.
13 November 2000