Viktoria Mullova

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Royal Festival Hall, LPO/Orozco-Estrada

November 2018


Colin Anderson Classical Source

London Nov 2018


In the first half, with the composer in attendance, Pascal Dusapin’s intriguingly-titled At Swim-Two-Birds, owing to the 1939 eponymous “experimental” novel by Flann O’Brien, not that the music mirrors the book, says the composer. Opening with a gruff gesture, the score is like listening to a dream, one that leans to being a world-away from ours, somewhat surreal. The idiom is rarefied and highlighted by subtle use of percussion (including tuned gongs), the pace moderate although short notes create activity, albeit when faster music does arrive it seems tacked on. A first hearing suggests this work as open-ended, unorganic, one that stops rather than finishes, and, not because it lasts thirty minutes, it came across as too long, certainly compelling and intriguing for the first twenty, rather less so from then on. A stellar UK premiere mind, the LPO fully primed, with Viktoria Mullova and Matthew Barley meaningfully entwined and technically superb.