Bryce Dessner | New Works
8th February 2018
Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
Without doubt, Bryce Dessner is one of classical music's most modern and versatile composers. A hugely successful guitarist for The National, his classical career is equally distinguished, having written for some of the finest ensembles in Europe and the US. Last year he was the first person to guest-curate a weekend of music at the spectacular Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. The year prior, Kristjan Järvi and the MDR Sinfonieorchester delivered a showcase of his work, and the Ensemble Intercontemporain premiered his Wires at the Philharmonie de Paris. His work, so often associated with that of the great modern American masters such as Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and John Adams, continues to grace most prestigious halls across the world.
Two orchestral works with soloists make their debut this year:
'Voy a Dormir'
Dessner's new song cycle Voy a Dormir, written for the shimmering timbre of mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor, will be unveiled on February 15 at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke's conducted by Robert Spano. Commissioned by Carnegie Hall, the Orchestra of St. Luke's, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Dessner sets poetry by Alfonsina Storni (1892-1938), one of the foremost poets in Latin American literature.
Dessner comments: "It has been a great honour to collaborate with Kelley O'Connor on my new work, Voy a Dormir, which is a setting of four poems by the important modernist Argentinian poet Alfonsina Storni for orchestra and mezzo-soprano. I was fortunate to hear Kelley sing the stunning Neruda Songs by the great late composer Peter Lieberson in Paris a few years ago and was inspired by her beautiful command of the Spanish language. I have long had an interest in Spanish and South American literature, which was my second major at Yale, yet this was my first experience setting Spanish text to music. Kelley and I worked collaboratively on choosing the poems and were both deeply moved by the beauty and power of Storni's words as well as the story of her life in which she struggled through difficult economic circumstances as a single mother and later breast cancer. My work traces the arc of four of her later poems ‘Yo en el fondo del Mar' (Me at the bottom of the Sea), ‘Dulce Tortura' (Sweet Torture), 'Faro en la Noche' (Lighthouse in the Night), and her last written poem before her death by suicide in 1938, ‘Voy a Dormir' (I am going to sleep)."
Book tickets: New York City
Concerto for Two Pianos
Dessner is a close collaborator with many of the soloists for whom he writes; this year's new Concerto for Two Pianos is no exception. Katia and Marielle Labèque, who are renowned for their ensemble of synchronicity and energy, have just finished a European tour performing Dessner's El Chan. Now, Dessner has written a concerto for the sisters to be premiered by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of John Storgårds on April 13.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Dresdner Philharmonie, the Orchestre de Paris, the Orquesta Nacional de España, and the Borusan Cultural Arts Centre and the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra commissioned the concerto. Dresden's performances are June 17 and 18; other co-commissioners' performances are during the 2018-19 season.
Book Tickets: London | Dresden