Colin Currie and the Scottish Ensemble
Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Thu 5 Feb; City Halls, Glasgow, Sun 8 Feb
Percussionist extraordinaire Colin Currie is making a return visit to his native Scotland to be re-united with the Scottish Ensemble for the first performances of a new specially commissioned piece intriguingly named now you hear me, now you don’t for marimba and strings. Austrian composer Kurt Schwertsik’s title refers to Currie’s role as soloist. ‘Sometimes he’s got the marimba at the forefront of the action,’ says Currie, ‘but at other points it vanishes without a trace. He keeps changing how it is used.’ Schwertsik, who was a horn player in the Vienna Philharmonic for many years, is one of Austria’s leading contemporary composers. ‘His music is quite fascinating’ says Currie, ‘it’s lovely to listen to, extremely tuneful, but underneath there is something quite cheeky bubbling away, which is a very characteristic part of his compositional voice. It’s very sparkly.’
Currie first came across Schwertsik’s music several years ago when he heard his short opera The Wondrous Tale of Fanferfizzy Sunnyfeet. He was drawn to the music so much that when the Scottish Ensemble asked who he would like to write a new concerto, he tracked Schwertsik down, heard more of his music, met him and told him the sort of piece he would like to play. Totally coincidentally, Schwertsik was also the top choice of Scottish Ensemble artistic director, Jonathan Morton. ‘He has definitely based it on what we talked about,’ says Currie, ‘and the result is a very polished, very high-end composition.’ It’s the tenth concerto that Currie has had specially written for him, only one of which hasn’t yet been performed after its premiere. Broadening the marimba and tuned percussion repertoire even further, number eleven will be a new concerto by Finnish composer Rautavaara, to be premiered by Currie and the London Philharmonic Orchestra in October.