Talbot’s Ballet and Concerto
25th June 2009
In July 2009 The Royal Ballet became the first major international ballet company to visit Cuba since the Revolution. Ballet Boyz Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt have been granted exclusive access to the entire tour and will witness first hand this extraordinary cultural exchange. The Royal Ballet repertoire for this trip includes Wayne McGregor’s ultra modern Chroma with music by Joby Talbot .
Chroma was Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor’s first ballet for the Royal Opera House main stage. The piece made a huge impact at its premiere in November 2007 and went on to win virtually all the dance awards that year including the 2007 South Bank Show Award for Dance and the 2007 Laurence Olivier Award for best dance production. Chroma pushes the dancers to their physical limits through McGregor’s astonishing and demanding choreography and is set to music by Joby Talbot. The score comprises seven works woven together to form an unbroken sequence, bringing together Talbot’s orchestral arrangements of three White Stripes songs including Aluminium and four of his own original compositions.
To watch a video of Wayne McGregor and Joby Talbot discussing the creative process behind Chroma please click here
The US premiere of Talbot’s trumpet concerto Desolation Wilderness will be given by Craig Morris, previously principal trumpet player with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra who since 2003 has developed a burgeoning solo career. Morris performs the work on August 15 under the baton of Marin Alsop at the Cabrillo Festival with the Festival Orchestra. In June 2009 Morris premiered the work with the Quingdao Symphony Orchestra in China.
Click here to listen to a clip of Desolation Wilderness
A newly published piano reduction
of the piece is now available from
Talbot says of the work: ‘In early November 2005 my family & some friends visited the high Sierra Nevada in Northern California. As on former trips to the area I was struck by the strange & disarming contrast between the bright sunshine, perfect blue sky, and warm mountain air of the Sierran autumn; and the occasional icy chill – sudden drops of temperature when the sun vanished behind the mountains, momentary glimpses through the trees of distant snow clouds over the highest peaks. Nowhere was this dichotomy more apparent than in the vast area of forests, lakes & mountains known as Desolation Wilderness. Here the twisted shapes of the aspens are testament to the destructive power of winter. Sure enough, that night the first snows fell, & the high mountain passes we’d just crossed were closed till spring.’
Press for Desolation Wilderness
Joby Talbot's orchestral commission is by no means as frightening as it sounds. It is a lavish, panoramic piece of Americana inspired by a drive through the untamed expanses of the north Californian landscape, whose musical moods mirror the quicksilver changes of the desert climate. Talbot is in demand as a composer of film scores. So it is no surprise that Desolation Wilderness resembles the soundtrack to an imaginary road movie, conceived as a star vehicle for the scintillating young trumpet player, Alison Balsom. There is not a vast tradition of contemporary trumpet literature: but whereas Shostakovich's concerto utilises the instrument as an irritant, and James MacMillian as a means of browbeating an entire orchestra, Talbot conceives the soloist's role as a behind-the-wheel commentary on the blasted aspens and freezing lakes of the high mountain pass.
The trumpet is rarely the most subtle of instruments, yet the suppleness and fluidity of Balsom's technique is astounding. The long, liquid lines she plays in the central slow movement defy conventional lung capacity, while the finale sees her swooping and fluttering through passages that even a flautist might find impossible to play. JoAnn Falletta, the vivacious director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, was an inspired choice to conduct, maintaining the hypnotic momentum without letting the work feel rhythmically unyielding.
— Alfred Hickling, The Guardian
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