This concert featured the world premiere of Fuchs' viola concerto “Divinum Mysterium,” based on an 11th century Sanctus trope of that name and on a hymn built on that trope, “Of the Father's Love Begotten.” And as an ending point for Fuchs' tenure as ASO composer-in-residence, it was entirely appropriate: well-crafted, imaginative, concise, and the farthest along work of his that Adrian audiences have heard.
As Fuchs noted to the audience, in this piece the violist takes the role of celebrant, leading the orchestra through a series of variations on the hymn tune. Meditative in spots, hauntingly beautiful in others, restlessly energetic in still others, the work builds over its 16-minute time frame to an atmospheric climax. As the work opens up and breathes at that point, the overall effect is one of journeying through a deeply spiritual experience into a place of joy and peace.
And Saturday's audience got to hear it performed by the musician for whom it was written: Paul Silverthorne, principal violist of the London Symphony Orchestra.
Silverthorne's performance of the work, which he had a significant role in helping craft, was nothing short of spectacular. His musicianship is extraordinary and his interpretation of the viola's role in this concerto is quite remarkable.
The fact that Adrian can say that it not only presented a world premiere (again) but did so with the world-class violist - who also, incidentally, sat in with the ASO's viola section to perform the Bruckner Fourth - for whom it was written is pretty amazing. And here's hoping this isn't the last Adrian sees of Ken Fuchs and his music, because it's been quite a partnership.