Lawrence Power is one of today’s foremost violists, in demand worldwide as a recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. He is celebrated across the globe as an imaginative and brilliant musician. After his successful recital and concerto soloist visits, Lawrence will return to Melbourne this week for his first ANAM residency.
“I’ve been a couple of times before so I know there is a really high level of musicianship,” Lawrence said. “I’ve been looking forward to spending more extended time with them in Melbourne. Usually I’ve just taught a class between other engagements so it will be nice to get to know everyone a bit better and also to work with this amazing program of music.”
Lawrence has gathered together a collection of startling works, culminating with Shostakovich’s own arrangement for string orchestra of his Eighth String Quartet, a searing, grief-stricken work, and arguably his most celebrated opus. “The piece was written during the aftermath of the allied bombing of Dresden and it was a powerful statement by Shostakovich to try and depict that in music,” Lawrence explains. “He depicts the bombs landing randomly coming from afar, which is a really eerie effect.”
Lawrence heard this piece performed by the Borodin Quartet while he was studying in London. “It was a very special moment to hear that iconic tribute quartet play that piece. I think that’s probably the first time I heard it live and it really stayed with me… I’ve heard it and played it in the quartet version quite a few times but I’m looking forward to playing it in this chamber orchestra version.”
One thing that Lawrence finds very interesting about this piece is that nestled within all the melancholic music, as always, Shostakovich spells out his name in musical letters: DSCH. It is a musical motif derived from the German transliteration of his name: Dmitri SCHostakovich. In German musical notation, S [sounding ‘es’] is E flat and H is B natural, resulting in the four-note sequence: D-E flat-C-B. “A lot of Russian composers liked to do that, they liked to put people’s names in their pieces of music. So that’s really interesting to me… It’s always a good experience listening to it.”
Also on the program is Woolrich’s Ulysses Awakes and Mozart’s String Quintet no. 1 in B-flat major that Lawrence said is always a joy to play, “Mozart was only 16 when he wrote it but it’s a real masterpiece”. Other than the work by Woolrich, which is a short, beautiful piece for viola and strings, Lawrence will perform alongside the ANAM musicians in the group. He said it’s very rewarding to work collaboratively with an ensemble in this way. “I think it’s always more interesting musically to be a collaborator, rather than just focusing on your one thing,” he said. “I always find one gets to know musicians much better when you’re part of the group and really working with them on that level, and I hope that it will be really useful for them as well, to play with me and exchange ideas.”
Lawrence is also known for his collaborative approach to working with composers. He has built a reputation of being a champion of contemporary music and has developed a large repertoire of new works. He gave the UK premiere of Olga Neuwirth’s Concerto Remnants of Song at the 2012 BBC Proms, and the world premieres of scores written for him, including Salonen’s Pentatonic Étude, Turnage’s Power Play, Anderson’s Prayer, Goehr’s Hymn to Night, MacMillan’s Viola Concerto and Watkins’ Fantasy.
“I do play a lot of contemporary music and it just seems such a natural and important thing to do, really, for us all to champion what we have today as much as how music has developed through the course of history.” “I love working with composers. I think it gives you a lot of freedom when you come back to classical composers because… when you go back to Bach or Beethoven or Mozart, it’s easy to forget that those composers were also just writing this music in their time.” Lawrence thinks it’s great to go back to the basic principals of rhythm and harmony without being too affected by the traditions of performing music, which he thinks is a danger with classical music. “For me, working with a composer is a rare opportunity to do something without having any influence at all, and that’s a really great thing as a musician, it’s very liberating… That’s what I love about contemporary music, you’re not overshadowed by tradition, ever.”
We’re looking forward to seeing the new ideas that Lawrence and the ANAM musicians will share during his residency this week.
Words by Miranda Cass, ANAM Marketing Coordinator
LAWRENCE POWER: SHOSTAKOVICH
Sat 16 Jun 7.30pm
BIBER Battalia for strings and continuo
MOZART String Quintet no. 1 in B-flat major
WOOLRICH Ulysses Awakes (after Monteverdi)
SHOSTAKOVICH Chamber Symphony op. 110a
Lawrence Power violin/viola/director
Tickets Full $60 Sen $47 Conc $35
Bookings anam.com.au or 03 9645 7911
Lawrence Power’s ANAM residency is generously supported by Ulrike Klein AO
This performance is generously supported by Arnold and Mary Bram