Tuesday 13 March 2018
World premiere of In Unison by Joey Roukens, given by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic conducted by Emilio Pomarico and soloists Arthur & Lucas Jussens (piano) NTR Satuday Matinee. Broadcast on 10 March, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. Listen again via www.npo-radio4.nl
Brothers Lucas and Arthur Jussen had something in particular they wanted for the double concerto that Joey Roukens was composing for them: that it should include a fearfully difficult part for their father, Paul Jussen, timpanist with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. Their wishes were amply granted with an obstinate, pounding family cadenza for pianos and timpani at the end of the work.
On the other hand, Roukens (b. 1982) didn’t make things easy for the younger Jussen either. Roukens is known for his rhythmically challenging idiom, rubbing shoulders with pop music. His enervating double concerto, which received its premiere at the NTR Saturday Matinee concert, is entitled In Unison: Roukens treats the two soloists as “one super-pianist on one super-piano”. After the opening section – a roaring orchestral melee culminating in a radiant Mahlerian chord – the first entrance of the Jussens instantly told us what Roukens meant by this: almost identical parts with daredevil runs and octaves, razor-sharp bouncing rhythms, hardly a beat to come up for air and everything running along at pace. Within the classical three-movement format of In Unison, Roukens leaned more than ever on his predilection for pop and film, music. Roukens seemed to throw all caution to the winds in the furious finale. The ingenious orchestration, rhythmic virtuosity and pop influences were all typical hallmarks of Roukens’ work. The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic played outstandingly well under Emilio Pomarico.
Joep Stapel NRC, Monday 12 March 2018