Concert Review: Oregon Symphony premieres Svoboda’s “Vortex”

Posted on: April 1, 2009

In an article posted Friday (3/27) on his Oregonian (Portland) blog, David Stabler writes, “It’s not just another Saturday night at the symphony. Carlos Kalmar is leaping up and down on the conductor’s podium, inciting a sonic riot in the orchestra. The strings march by. A cello weeps. Trumpets scream, horns howl and five drummers thrash a battery of bongos, tom-toms and timpani. The noise, even in the balcony of Schnitzer Hall, is obliterating. A riot is just what the composer, Tomas Svoboda, called for. At 69, he is scared and angry—over war, greed, global warming—and he wants the world to know it.” This is all contained in Svoboda’s new work Vortex, given its world premiere by the Oregon Symphony. “In the 23-minute piece, Svoboda reaches a new level of expression, braiding Czech rhythms, vibrant tonal colors and rampant counterpoint into a potent political protest. … After the Oregon Symphony commissioned ‘Vortex’ last year, Kalmar carried the score around with him for three months, studying it in spare moments. He admires its craftsmanship—complex, yet clear, a Svoboda trait—as well as its force, he says.”

April 1, 2009