“Hardly any concertos have been written for the bass clarinet,” writes Terry Blain in Friday’s (4/26) Star Tribune (Minneapolis). “One exception is ‘Prometheus’ by American composer Geoffrey Gordon. First heard earlier this year in London, the work received its U.S. premiere Thursday morning at Orchestra Hall. The soloist was Timothy Zavadil, Minnesota Orchestra’s bass clarinetist…. Zavadil gave a commanding performance. Gordon’s piece is based on a prose fragment by Franz Kafka, outlining four strands of the Prometheus story…. Gordon found striking counterparts for these events in his fulminating, expressive orchestral writing. Spitting trumpets suggested the sharpened talons of raptors. Deep percussion rumbled with the dark psychology of predation and physical chastisement. Zavadil’s ripely rounded bass clarinet tone bestowed an element of dignity on the suffering Prometheus, tracking his gradual obliteration from public memory through a twisting solo cadenza to the unsettling memory-wipe of the piece’s fade-to-black conclusion.” Also on the program were Beethoven’s Prometheus Overture, Sibelius’s tone poem Tapiola, and Haukur Tómasson’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with soloist Víkingur Ólafsson, whose “solos glinted like dripping icicles from the piano, interacting delicately with small groups in the orchestra and the sinuous violin of Susie Park.”

Posted May 1, 2019