Critical acclaim for STEP RIGHT UP
The world premiere of STEP RIGHT UP, Vasco Mendonca´s new piano concerto, was received with an enthusiastic response from both press and public in Lisbon and São Paulo:
"A great concert of contemporary music (...).
The orchestra is a multifaceted, sound producing, caleidoscopic machine. Mendonça takes advantadge of this mechanical precision and clarity in three movements that put to the test not only the pianist (the brilliant Roger Muraro), but also the conductor´s skills (the excelent Benjamin Schwartz) in order to manage the gigantic sound factory demanded by the composer. Heralded by the percussion, string attacks and hammered notes on the piano, STEP RIGHT UP develops with great clarity, rhythmically driven and releasing cascades of contagious energy. And if, at the beginning, some of the lyrical interventions seem shy and fleeting, they´re really preparing us for the assertive presence of the piano in the last movement. In short, one of the most exciting premieres I have listened to in the last few years. The good news is that STEP RIGHT UP is being recorded this week for a CD of orchestral music entirely dedicated to the composer. I will listen to it many times, as I´m sure I´ll discover many surprises I may have missed at this first hearing.(...)"
"The result is a fine example of the current vitality of musical creation, and of the strong communicating power contemporary music can have with the audience (...)
(...) Particularly in the first and last movements (since the second is more introspective, exploring darker and more delicate atmospheres) an incisive materiality of the sound is achieved, traversed by a visceral energy, echoing the piece´s title and the evocation of African rituals (...)
The percussive character of the piano dominates most of the piece, sometimes through brief musical gestures demanding a milimetric coordination with the orchestral forces. Despite this anti-romantic treatment of the piano and its relation to the orchestra, it stands as a virtuoso piece, where Roger Muraro was able to show his multifaceted qualities, in a strong performance of a work that is set to be a highlight in Vasco Mendonça´s catalogue, whose career is obtaining a growing international visibility."
"Without using any tonal cliches, (Mendonça) proposes different relations between piano and orchestra, throughout the three movements: first the piano answers back to and complements the orchestral mass, unable to impose itself; after that, the basic material seems to be born of and ramifies from the pure sound of the keys; finally, a very logical interaction turns into a fight between soloist and tutti."
***** Folha de São Paulo