June 25 – The last week has been a whirlwind of activity, and I am just getting around to updating the website with some posts. First of all, my heartfelt thanks to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and conductor Gustavo Gimeno for the committed performance of Unrelenting Sorrow, a TSO commissioned work for 2020 which was finally brought to the light of day last week, almost two years since its slated premiere. The piece was programmed alongside works by fellow Canadian composers Adam Scime and Bekah Simms.
Joseph So from Ludwig van Toronto writes:
The first half consisted of three short works by three Canadians, all world premieres and TSO NextGen commissions. These represent the musical reflections/musings on the pandemic by the composers. To be sure, all are stylistically “new music” with its distinctive sonorities, angular, percussive, and dissonant, reflecting the challenges of COVID on the physical and emotional self. Unfailingly, all three works deliver powerful emotional statements, and I found myself moved. And, I’m a self-professed traditionalist when it comes to music!
I was particularly struck by Roydon Tse’s Unrelenting Sorrow: “(it) captures the overwhelming sense of sorrow that lingers when a loved one passes…. Anger, frustration, nostalgia, resignation. The pain can seem unceasing and unrelenting.” His orchestration expresses all these emotions well, including the very final phrases that show a glimmer of hope. A work that I would like to hear again.
Leslie Barcza compares the piece to the third movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in his review:
That’s how I see Tse’s piece. Of the three new works, in “Unrelenting Sorrow”, where he would explore loss from war and pandemic, Tse is undertaking the most conventional sort of piece in seeking to be melodic and appealing to our emotions, taking us in a late-romantic direction. As such it’s a brave choice, one that not all composers can handle. I think the work succeeds admirably.
Prior to the premiere performance on June 15, I made a short video for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra explaining the piece: