Lawrence Power Viola
BBC PROMS REVIEW: Lawrence Power (viola), BBC Symphony Orchestra, Oliver Knussen:
On Opened Ground is vintage Mark-Anthony Turnage – literally so in one way, completed in 2001 but only now receiving its first BBC Proms performance, and in the hands of those who gave its UK premiere back in 2004. Lawrence Power took full advantage of his familiarity with composer, work and fellow performers to give an account more personally shaped and febrile than before. Power struck a note of soulful anguish at the concerto’s opening cadenza, and he allowed no let-up through the ironically named Scherzino (a touch of Brahmsian understatement) – his LPO performance with Markus Stenz, now on the orchestra’s own label, is positively organised yet a little tame by comparison – and Knussen and the orchestra did well at times to hang on. Turnage’s scoring is masterful in giving the soloist his own broad space of pitch and timbre to dig into and over, and Power’s sound has never knowingly been understated, so that even in the Albert Hall’s acoustic and at the most eruptive interventions from low brass, he rang through.
On paper at least, the second movement’s Interrupted Song and Chaconne brings respite. Here, at any rate, we arrive at the title’s oblique reference to the ground as a bass, which Turnage is not content to repeat with variations according to form but breaks up – digs, or opens, perhaps – with a flinty, unsentimental but unconsoled spirit that may also evoke the poetry of Seamus Heaney from whom the title is adopted. Here again Power pushed hard where he could have trusted the acoustic and his partners more, so that the work was less accompanied soliloquy and more authentic concerto than ever.
After the interval came another Proms first for a composer whom Knussen has done much to champion, The Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee by Gunter Schuller. This became a memorial to the composer, who died in June, 90 years old but having crammed into that life the work of centuries, a Renaissance man who excelled at whatever in music he turned his hand to: horn player with Duke Ellington and Callas, conductor of Beethoven and Babbitt, editor of Joplin, author of The Compleat Conductor, and, all the time, composer, in a style his own that nonetheless reflected the pace of change observed and lived through the 20th century by a New York native. The Klee pictures move between Schoenberg and blues as if a distinction between the two was for wimps. The highlight of this devoted performance was not the serialism-with-a-smile of ‘The Twitter Machine’ but the following evocation of an Arab village, and at its centre a painstakingly, uneven-tempered trio of oboe, violin and harp, with a moment of genius as an offstage flute hovered over them from the Gallery. At the close, Knussen held the moment, then raised the score aloft in tribute.
The Prom was bookended by scintillating performances of two classics. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was all the more outrageously funny for its deadeye precision, and the Poem of Ecstasy no less voluptuous for being unindulged beyond Scriabin’s own hypertrophic requirements. At the centre of the din sat Knussen, channelling all the heat through the music and not himself, most authoritative and least exhibitionistic of conductors, a reproach in action to most of his colleagues.
Peter Quantrill, The Amati Magazine, 12 August 2015
Lawrence Power performs Mozart Sinfonia Concertante with Arabella Steinbacher and the Philharmonia conducted by Chrisoph von Dohnanyi:
Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante had two excellent soloists: violinist Arabella Steinbacher and violist Lawrence Power. They proved well matched, especially in terms of tone and phrasing, passing ideas back and forth with scarcely a break in gestural integrity, even if the sheer character of Power’s playing arguably won on points.
George Hall, The Guardian, 02 July 2015
Lawrence Power performs MacMillan for his debut with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra:
"Power has the technical brilliance and emotional depth to project MacMillan’s soundscapes with visceral energy beyond most people’s experience of a viola’s capabilities.
So it wasn’t long into this substantial three-movement outpouring before listeners completely lost awareness of the viola’s often quoted limitations and deficiencies, for in Power’s hands there were none.
Whether negotiating MacMillan’s infinitely suspended cadential patterns or fragmented wisps of sound, Power transmitted the concerto’s rainbow of infused styles and genres with remarkable effect and immediacy."
Rodney Smith, The Adelaide Advertiser, May 2015
Lawrence Power performs Berlioz with Musikkollegium Winterthur and Douglas Boyd in Zurich:
"Der Solist Lawrence Power, der seit diesem Semester einen Lehrstuhl fur Viola an der ZHdK innehat, traumte diese Musik melancholisch aus: Sein uppiger Ton setzte sich muhlos gegen das riesige Orchester durch, und vor allem der lyrische Mittelteil mit den gehauchten Flageoletts und exotisch wirkenden Farben tat seine zauberhafte Wirkung."
Der Landebote, 15 February 2014
Lawrence Power gives the world premiere of the MacMillan Viola Concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Jurowski:
"...it's a fine showcase of Power's extraordinarliy eloquent playing, and his ability to transform the most commonplace phrase into something magically eloquent and memorable."
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 17 January 2014
"There is no musician today better equipped to play it than the minstrel-like Power, who sounded properly fired up and downright inspired from first note to last."
Andrew Clark, The Financial Times, 24 January 2014
"...violist Lawrence Power’s extraordinary championship of the gift James MacMillan has given him might well prove to be the solo performance of the year"
Edward Seckerson, 23 January 2014
"In the first movement, a sinister little march kept subverting the violist’s yearning melodic line, played with heroic assurance and expressivity by Power."
Ivan Hewett, The Daily Telegraph, 23 January 2014
Lawrence Power performs in Hamburg with the Ensemble Resonanz:
"Unter dem Motto "tränenglück" versammelte die kollektive Dramaturgie Musik von John Dowland, Paul Hindemith, Samuel Barber, Benjamin Britten und Richard Strauss, wobei Hindemiths Sonate für Viola solo in der Summe am ehesten ihrem Nennwert entsprach. Von Lawrence Power mit überlegener Virtuosität vorgetragen, ließ sie doch jene Portion Gemütsschwärze vermissen, die die übrigen Kompositionen umso konzentrierter verströmten."
Axel Springer, Die Welt, 14 December 2013
Lawrence Power performs with the Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias:
"It is clear that the Rozsa Viola Concerto fits Lawrence Power like a glove. Not surprisingly, Power has regularly performed this work, for example in 2010 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Power is an interpreter of great power and communication, perfect to star in this work where the lyricism of the viola is given the chance to shine. Power is able to navigate the difficult siolo passages with consummate technique and lyricism, drawing on the wide range of sounds he can produce from the instrument."
Diana Diaz, Oviedo, 05 June 2013
Lawrence Power performs the Bowen Viola Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Wilson:
"Lawrence Power was the soloist with the BBCSO at the Barbican...proving wonderfully assertive in the impassioned opening of the concerto."
John Allison, The Daily Telegraph, 13 May 2013
Lawrence Power performs Britten Lachrymae with the Academy-of-St-Martin-in-the-Fields:
"Violist Lawrence Power paid his tribute in Britten's Lachrymae, capturing perfectly its ghostly, sometimes manic, shadows, and imbuing the whole with tone-colours of exceptional artistry."
Rian Evans, The Guardian, 13 May 2013
Lawrence Power performs the Bowen Voila Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Wilson:
"In terms of belief, understanding and communicative music-making, Power is surely in a class of his own: this was magnificent playing from the young master and Wilson’s partnership was an inspiration to all aspiring conductors."
Robert Matthew-Walker, Classical Source, 09 May 2013
Lawrence Power performs with the Gottingen Symphony Orchestra:
"With Lawrence Power, whose Hindemith recordings have become the benchmark by which all others are judged, the GSO has a significant soloist...he thrilled the audience...eliciting both powerful and majestic sounds as well as delicate and expressive feeling. The audience broke into enthusiastic applause at the end."
Tina Evers, The Gottingen Times, 24 April 2013
Lawrence Power performs with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales:
"Britten's Double Concerto for Violin and Viola was written in 1932, when he was still a student. It only reached the listening public in 1987 when it was orchestrated by Colin Matthews, following Britten's specific annotations. The viola was Britten's instrument, hence giving it such an assertive role in the balance between the two soloists; Lawrence Power took this up with relish, injecting a dramatic urgency as well his characteristically rich sound, while violinist Anthony Marwood was a most sympathetic partner."
Rian Evans, The Guardian, 03 April 2013
Lawrence Power performs with the Nash Ensemble at the Wigmore Hall:
"...it was Lawrence Power's honeyed viola that caught the ear...Julian Anderson's Prayer for solo viola was a stunning spotlight for Power, who battled a twisty musical line before unfolding the lyrical beauty that lay underneath it."
Neil Fisher, The Times, 21 March 2013
Lawrence Power and the Real Filharmonica de Galicia:
"Lawrence Power showed the warm sound that can be achieved with a viola...he interacted visually with the orchestra and the music, conveying sheer joy...almost recahing ecstasy in his cadenza."
Bruno Diaz, La Voz de Vigo, 20 March 2013
"...the interpretation of Lawrence Power created a tight dialogue between orchestra and soloist, with beautifully contrapuntal language and playing that was melodic and playful. The solo viola 'Allegro' provided the emotional high-point of the evening."
Octavio Beares, Faro de Vigo, 20 March 2013
Lawrence Power performs with Simon Crawford-Phillips at the RWCMD:
"Both musicians played with profound sensitivity and technical brilliance, achieving an expresive intensity that made for compelling listening. Power's viola tone is breathtakingly beautiful, rich and poetic, but such is his insight that the music, rather than his technique, is what commands attention."
Rian Evans, The Guardian, 28 February 2013
Lawrence Power performs at the Wigmore Hall with the Nash Ensemble:
"Lawrence Power played [Britten's Lachrymae] with great dignity, technical prowess and beauty of tone..."
Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 06 Deecember 2012
Lawrence Power performs Strauss' Don Quixote with the London Philharmonic Orchestra conduted by Yannick Nezet-Seguin:
"...there was luxury support from Sancho Panza, voiced by the viola virtuoso Lawrence power."
Neil Fisher, The Times, 23 November 2012
Lawrence Power performs at the Wigmore Hall with the Nash Ensemble:
"As in his obbligatos in the Bridge songs, violist Lawrence Power conveyed the music's inner landscape in playing of rapt concentration, charting its course with glowing tone and the subtlest shifts in colour...he has become an artist of exceptional expressive power."
George Hall, The Guardian, 21 November 2012
Lawrence Power performs Britten Lachrymae with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Russian National Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Jurowski:
"Lawrence Power probed Britten's exploration of the viola's soul judiciously and Jurowski's concern with minutiae paid dividends; this most-beautiful music sang."
Kevin Rogers, Classical Source, 08 October 2012
"Then, a stunning musical contrast, with no very obvious connection to the evening's commemorative theme but none the worse for that, as the compelling playing of Lawrence Power eloquently cajoled the hushed refinements of Britten's Lachrymae for viola and string orchestra."
Martin Kettle, The Guardian, 08 October 2012
Lawrence Power performs Walton with the London Philharmonic Orchestra:
"...Lawrence Power found the darker, raw underside of its poignancy [Walton's Viola Concerto], and raged his way through its danse macabre."
Hilary Finch, The Times, 05 October 2012
Lawrence performs Neuwirth's Remnants of Songs...an Amphigory at the BBC Proms 2012:
"Lawrence Power, taking a fearsomely twisty solo part alongside a well-drilled Philharmonia under Susanna Mälkki...the combination of Power’s charisma and Neuwirth’s acute sense of theatre was a potent combination."
Neil Fisher, The Times, 15 August 2012
"Later, in the Prom given by the Philharmonia Orchestra, Neuwirth’s uncanny ability to make memory supercharged with emotion came out in full force. Her Remnants of Songs....an Amphigory is a five-movement viola concerto, which mingles a skittish playful quality (which is what amphigories are meant to have, apparently) with a tranced mysteriousness. The most striking moment in a very striking piece was the fourth movement, where viola soloist Lawrence Power conjured a beautiful long line out of little aspiring gestures."
Ivan Hewett, The Daily Telegraph, 14 August 2012
"The piece starts with arpeggios of harmonics, a very unusual passage of stratospheric writing in the viola’s range, deftly performed by Lawrence Power"
Hannah Sanders, Classical Source, 14 August 2012
"Lawrence Power was astounding in the long and demanding solo part."
George Hall, The Guardian, 14 August 2012
Scottish Ensemble and Jonathan Morton performing Mozart Sinfonia Concertante and Bedford Wonderful Two-Headed Nightingale, February 2012:
“To finish, Power and Morton led in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante. Wonderfully crisp playing in the first movement gave way to tenderness in the second. The partnership was particularly thrilling…they all looked like they were really enjoying themselves…”
Alison Hooper, Bachtrack, 27 February 2012
“Jonathan Morton and violist Lawrence Power spent the remaining 13 high-octane minutes in searing unison. The accompaniment piled microtones into blocks of bright primary colour; inner parts and brute energy kept things surging forward, but Bedford's knack is for creating atmospheric sustain rather than long-span narrative. The scoring is for the same lineup (strings plus oboes and horns) as Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante, which ended this programme. Cool or detached this was not; Power and Morton each have the imposing charisma to make every phrase their own, and they blurred the line between playful responses and one-upmanship. In this music, which Mozart wrote to prove his own talent, such machismo swagger makes some kind of sense.”
Kate Molleson, The Guardian, 27 February 2012
“Power and Morton played with consummate care as they imitated each other with complicated rhythms and dissonant chords…they responded to each other’s solo work with intelligence and total assimilation…"
Perthshire Advertiser, 27 February 2012
Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder performing Berlioz Harald in Italy, January 2012:
“…soloist Lawrence Power delivered the most poetic and compelling performance of this wayward piece that I’ve ever encountered. The young English violist brought a confiding intimacy and dizzying range of expression from the conversational playfulness of the opening theme to the hushed tranquillity of at the end of the second movement. Throughout…Power conjured an array of unearthly colours from his remarkable instrument…”
Lawrence A Johnson, Chicago Classical Review, 9 January 2012
“He is a player of poise, elegance and individuality. I have never heard a performance…as interesting as Power’s; it pulled the orchestra into his wholly thoughtful and musical realm…”
Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun Times, 9 January 2012
“The charismatic British violist Lawrence Power looked rather like a Byronic hero and certainly sounded like one, in an impressive CSO debut. The rich tonal hues he summoned from his 1610 Brenzi viola ranged from seductive at the outset to dreamy at the close…”