Professor Pradeep Ratnayake’s work was performed in the June – July 2019 season of the Westfalen Orchestra in Germany and in the Middelburg Music Festival in Holland, marking a rare instance of a Sri Lankan composer’s work being played alongside the masters of Western classical music. Ratnayake himself performed on the sitar, as it played with unfamiliar bedfellows like a classical quintet or a fully-fledged orchestra, often bringing people to their feet in appreciation of his avant-garde brand of music.
The Kuveni Concerto - a double concerto for sitar and cello backed by orchestra – which Ratnayake composed during his Fulbright tenure at Columbia University, New York, from 2008 – 2010, was performed with Ramon Jaffe on cello, under the baton of conductor Rasmus Baumann,in their “Exotic Legends” concert which also included Gustav Theodore Holst’sIndra op.13 and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakow’s Scheherazade op.35. It was performed thrice in Recklinghausen, Ruhrfestspielhaus; Kamen, Konzertaula; and Gelsenkirchen, Konzertaula.
Of the performances itself, Dr. Gotz Loos commented in the German ‘Das Online Magazin’ of June 29, 2019, "It seems almost presumptuous to praise the two soloists - but they undoubtedly belong to the grand masters of their instruments.” He goes on to say of the work: "With "Kuweni" for sitar, violoncello and orchestra followed not only a work with authentic instrument and a great expectation against the possible use of Indian-Ceylonese musical elements, but the composer Pradeep Ratnayake also played the sitar in person. The "Ravi Shankar of Sri Lanka" - an assignment that guarantees the highest virtuosity on the sitar - had composed the work in 2010, trying to connect two musical cultures with the cello as a counterpart. The orchestral framework comes along astonishingly European-classical, with baroque motor skills and small, exotic-sounding intervals. The very dominant sound of the sitar obviously needs more than just the cello as an answer.
The Kuveni Concerto - a double concerto for sitar and cello backed by orchestra – which Ratnayake composed during his Fulbright tenure at Columbia University, New York, from 2008 – 2010, was performed with Ramon Jaffe on cello, under the baton of conductor Rasmus Baumann,in their “Exotic Legends” concert
But that's not how it was.The sitar was very cuddly compared to the European-dominated frame and also cello and sitar led a rather positive dialogue rather than a conflict.
While the soloists increased in trance over the four movements and furiously merged towards the end, the orchestral part reached a unity with the soloists only at the end. All in all, the exoticism was concentrated here on the sitar, the rest of the material was more familiar. Nevertheless, an exciting piece of music and a grandiose performance. Incidentally, Solo cellist was Ramon Jaffé, known for his unconventional work, and is widely known for his trio dedicated to the interpretation of flamenco.. . . Since they had not seen each other for a long time, they brought in a newly composed duo as an encore, celebrating the joy of the reunion. Again, terrific!" In the same tour, Ratnayake also performed at the 21st Chamber Music Festival Middelburg 2019, where a quintet composed of Anush Nikoghosyan (violin), Wolfgang Schröder (violin), AsdisValdimarsdottir (viola) Erich Oskar Hütter (cello) and VjacheslavPoprugin (piano), and where Ramón Jaffé is artistic director as well as cellist, played Joyous Meeting(for Sitar & Cello); Kuveni for Sitar, Cello & Piano; and Stallions (Sitar and Quintet) at the Zeeland Concert Hall, Middleburg.
Pradeep Ratnayake is a Professor of Music at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. Currently he is working on bringing out a CD of his compositions with musicians from