A world premiere at the Göttingen Symphony Orchestra (GSO) concert program on Friday in the town hall: "Inscription - Transformation", a piece for violin and orchestra by Kenneth Hesketh. The English composer was present to witness the success of his work.

…Right from the start, we were treated to something new: a cycle of piano pieces by French composer Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013), arranged for orchestra by Kenneth Hesketh. With this work, Hesketh has proved himself a master of instrumentation: these charming and delicate miniatures are colourful and contrasted, rich and suggestive.
The principal conductor of the GSO Christoph-Mathias Mueller and Hesketh have known each other for over 20 years. Therefore it comes as no surprise that Hesketh entrusted the GSO with the world premiere of his concerto. It is two features that characterise this music which appears unwieldy only at first glance: On one hand there is the effective dramaturgy that lies in the succession of climactic developments, outbursts and static sound fields; on the other hand one can observe a fascinating variety of unusual sonic colours.

Mueller and his dedicated instrumentalists took on this in parts touching and strong music with commitment. The solo part was entrusted by Hesketh to the American violinist Janet Sung. She interpreted it with excitement, technical brilliance and musically without any flaw. The audience rewarded the performance with a noticeably long and persistent applause.

Göttinger Tageblatt
Michael Schäfer

Beauty of Darkness
World Premiere by Hesketh with the Symphony Orchestra Göttingen

The principal conductor of the Symphony Orchestra Göttingen, Christoph-Mathias Mueller, threw out “listening anchors”. This is what he calls playing important passages of a piece in advance in order to aid the audience’s orientation during the performance. In the case of Hesketh’s piece ‘Inscription-Transformation’ for violin and orchestra these were passages which Mueller called ‘surges’. This interpretation offered a way to listen to Hesketh’s commission for Göttingen as a multiplex surging against resignation and dissolution.

Now, this does not necessarily sound like the description of an attractive work. However, the 13-minute long composition impresses in a variety of ways: through its density, its rather complex and meaningful instrumentation as well as the fascinating relationship between solo instrument and orchestra.

The American violinist Janet Sung performed with much intensity but without exaggerated soloistic pathos. At the beginning the violin appears more like an exposed voice from the orchestra rather than a counterpart. At the very end, after fortissimo-eruptions and bizarre col-legno shadow worlds are explored, the solo violin sustains a high, gently insistent pitch — maybe a glimmer of hope.

Hessische / Niedersächsische Allgemeine
Werner Fritch

Sound Colours and Sound Events with Kenneth Hesketh

‘Reverenz’ — The Symphony Orchestra Göttingen with a world premiere in the Stadthalle Göttingen
‘A reference has always something to with awe and gratitude’, explained the principal conductor of the Symphony Orchestra Göttingen, Christoph-Mathias Mueller, at the beginning of the concert in the Stadthalle Göttingen. The first point of reference was the transcription of Henri Dutilleux’s (1916-2013) piano suite Au gré des ondes by the British composer Kenneth Hesketh (*1968) who had arranged the six little pieces for orchestra. Through that process the music gained a lot of colour. Mueller made those colours audible while his musicians made it shine by varied accentuation.

‘He understands my music better than anyone else’, said Kenneth Hesketh recently in an interview about Mueller with whom he collaborates regularly. This understanding was proven by Christoph-Mathias Mueller with the world premiere of ‘Inscription - Transformation for violin and orchestra’. Kenneth Hesketh’s music is all about sound colours and sound events. There are no melodies in the traditional sense. And it is also no violin concerto.

If anything, the solo violin (played by the American Janet Sung) constantly stands in dialogue and conflict with the orchestra. The gentle beginning with the bell strokes of the harp and the sounds of the flute is like a mild sunrise. However, soon the day develops into chaos with a strong crescendo. The orchestra, through its interruptions, spreads powerful disquiet. The air in the hall starts to shimmer. The attempts of the solo violin to mediate fail. Other attempts follow, the eruptions of the orchestra repeat, the musicians appear unforgiving. Towards the end, however, the orchestra seems to surrender. The surging yields, life seems to vanish. There are final convulsions and even the solo violin seems to surrender with its glissando. At the end, there is something resembling a storm with strong cracks of thunder. Then everything becomes peaceful and falls silent.

In his work, which is dedicated to Henri Dutilleux and his grandmother, Hesketh develops a gripping sonic language. This was executed splendidly by the Symphony Orchestra Göttingen. Plenty of individual woodwind performances were impressive. The audience in the packed Stadthalle offered a long applause to the musicians and the composer Kenneth Hesketh.

Kulturbüro Göttingen
Jens Wortmann
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