ROBERT GROSLOT (b.1951): Cello Concerto, Harp Concerto (First Recordings), Piano Concerto.
Catalogue Number: 12V010
Description: The composer-conductor-pianist has become a prolific author of concerti, drawing on his experience as a virtuoso performer, all in the past decade after he gave up performing to concentrate on composition. To date he has written more than 20 accessible, tonal works, idiomatically showcasing the tension between individual and large ensemble, the Romantic ideal of a concerto that he has no problem celebrating to its bravura fullest in rich, neo-Romantic vehicles like the three here. These concerti are very different, though not entirely as necessitated by the solo instruments, as distinct as one could imagine. All three are based on a large-scale sonata form structure, and all announce their harmonic world at the outset, in chords or scales that determine much of the types of harmonic relationships that will dominate the piece. It is no surprise that the large concerto for Groslot's own (former) instrument is the kind of bold, dramatic bravura vehicle full of narrative tension that he enjoyed as performer. A maestoso introduction leads to a scurrying allegro punctuated by stabbing interjections from the brass. (Something is going on with Groslot and Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances, as yet undisclosed in any program note; as in the Violin Concerto (08U060) written in the same year, an unmistakable quotation suddenly emerges). A vivo section, livelier but less insistently motoric, appears, followed by a kind of slow movement, then an increasingly declamatory and vehement short 'scherzo' and an extended cadenza which effectively forms the ‘development' section of the work's quasi-sonata structure. The recapitulation mirrors the sequence of the first part, the rapid-running section this time leading into the work's climactic 'finale', propelled by a galloping rhythmic ostinato. The Harp Concerto is a surprisingly tense and dramatic work, beginning with a mysterious opening section that lays out the motifs on which much of the piece is based. This soon turns ominous and noir-ish in mood, transitioning in and out of rhythmically incisive faster material, before relaxing into a 'slow movement' with Mahlerian bird and horn calls, and the lyrical nature of the harp finally on display. An expectant, nocturnal mood ensues, then a robust allegro, with the harp vying with percussion for propulsive incisiveness. The final section, though, ends the concerto with gently rippling, mysterious arpeggios. After a deceptively melancholy lyrical introduction, the Cello Concerto is a more relaxed work, with many humorous touches and witty dialogues between the soloist and members of the orchestra, good-humored apart from a brief name- calling skirmish with the concertmaster. The first half of the piece and the rhythmic final section have this easygoing, collaborative quality, though the scherzo/development section generates considerable excitement for a while. The work ends in the mood in which it began. Jan Michiels (piano), Ilia Yourevitch Laporev (cello), Eline Groslot (harp), Brussels Philharmonic; Robert Groslot.