A digestion mishap causes an investigation: This is the starting point of Elisabeth Naske’s new children’s opera which will be premiered at Wuppertaler Bühnen on 20 May 2022. The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business (German original title: ‘Vom kleinen Maulwurf, der wissen wollte, wer ihm auf den Kopf gemacht hat’) only requires three performers on the stage: a singer, an actor and a viola player. Taking place in the German city of Wuppertal, Iris Marie Sojer plays the mole, Stefan Walz the gardener and with Sopie Rasmussen on viola. Ela Baumann is the director of the production, and Koji Ishizaka responsible for the musical side. We interviewed the composer about her new piece: Continue reading “Work of the Week – Elisabeth Naske: The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business”
“Cellissimo” is Music for Galway’s new international cello festival on the edge of Europe. It presents its first concerto gala with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra’s concert on 11 May 2022 at Leisureland Center in Galway. In this unique combination of aquatic and concert hall, Edward Elgar’s famous cello concerto is combined with the world premiere of Gerald Barry’s Cello Concerto. Cellist Adrian Mantu from Galway is soloist alongside conductor David Brophy. Continue reading “Work of the Week – Gerald Barry: Cello Concerto”
With his first violin concerto “1001 Nights in the Harem” from 2007, Turkish composer Fazıl Say wrote one of the most successful concertos of our time. The successor is his Violin Concerto No. 2 “Spring mornings in the days of quarantine”awaiting its world premiere this week on 6 May at Konzerthaus Berlin Friedemann Eichhorn (violin) will be accompanied by the Konzerthausorchester Berlin under Christoph Eschenbach. Continue reading “Work of the Week – Fazıl Say: Violin Concerto No. 2”
A Tyrolean in Amsterdam: It’s the flattest of all European countries which is focussing on mountain climbing this week. The Akso|Schoenberg Ensemble is presenting Thomas Larcher’s The Living Mountain for soprano and ensemble on 30 April 2022. Soloist of the world premiere at the Concertgebouw is Sarah Aristidou, Gregory Charette conducting. Continue reading “Work of the Week – Thomas Larcher: The Living Mountain”
A tower block in summer and the water isn’t running. In the opera The Arabian Night by Christian Jost, the residents meet each other in their search for water, escaping their self-inflicted isolation. The first performance of the chamber opera The Arabian Night at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin will take place on 14 April 2022. Phlipp Armbruster will conduct the work, based on the play of the same name by Roland Schimmelpfennig, with original staging by Marcin Łakomicki. Continue reading “Work of the Week – Christian Jost: Die arabische Nacht”
A cinema screen, a live camera and a children’s book. Most people probably wouldn´t associate these objects with an orchestral work, but they prove an important component to the performance of Ludger Vollmer’s Der Tigerprinz (The Tiger Prince). The work for narrator and orchestra sets to music Chen Jianghong’s book of the same name. The music and narration are accompanied by unique images, projected onto a screen, providing an experience which can be appreciated by people of all ages. On 20 February the piece will be performed to a live audience for the first time at the Tonhalle Düsseldorf. The Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra will perform under the direction of Harish Shankar, Wolfram Boelzle appearing as narrator. The visual realisation is the work of the theater collective compagnie toit végétal. Continue reading “Work of the Week – Ludger Vollmer: Der Tigerprinz”
The Corona pandemic has presented great challenges to humankind and created a sense of powerlessness. Chaya Czernowin expressed her impressions of this in her new work Atara, a lament for orchestra and two amplified voices. The ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra will perform the world premiere on 9 November 2021 at the Wien Modern Festival with Christian Karlsen and soloists Sofia Jernebrg, soprano and Holger Falk, baritone. Continue reading “Work of the Week – Chaya Czernowin: Atara”
5 November 2021 marks the 100th birthday of Georges Cziffra. After Liszt, no other composer represented the Hungarian style better than him and no existing composition was difficult enough for the legendary virtuoso.
On Cziffra’s birthday, Peter Eötvös’ new piano concerto Cziffra Psodia will receive its world premiere to celebrate the centenary. Soloist Janós Balász and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France will perform the piece under the baton of Mikko Franck at Budapest’s MüPa concert hall.
I wrote the piano concerto on the occasion of Georges Cziffra’s 100th birthday. My family had personal connections to him and I had the opportunity to get to know him when I was still a child. Cziffra’s whole life was one of success and tragedy. It was rhapsodic and dramatic. This is precisely the atmosphere I have tried to create in my piano concerto. The characteristic, metallic rhythm heard in the first movement is reminiscent of the work in the quarry during his imprisonment. The later, meditative state of the moments of his withdrawal from the public has been composed in three quiet cadenzas. Each movement ends with a short violin solo, a personal tribute. Peter Eötvös
On 7 November, the French premiere of Cziffra Psodia will be presented in Paris at the Maison de la Radio et de la Musique. Swiss and Norwegian premieres with Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and Stavanger Symphony Orchestra are scheduled for 2022/2023.
- Peter Eötvös: Composer profile
- Cziffra Psodia: Work details and online score
- Cziffra100 Festvial at MüPa
photo: Tibor Bozi
On Monday 1st November 2021, the opera Die Verurteilung des Lukullus (“The condemnation of Lucullus”) by Paul Dessau will be performed at Staatsoper Stuttgart. It is the first time that the work has been staged in the state capital of Baden-Württemberg. Julia Lwowski and Franziska Kronfoth, the founders of musical theatre collective “Hauen und Strechen” are directing the production alongside conductor Bernhard Kontarsky, who has been working with the Staatsoper Stuttgart since the 1960s.
The opera from 1949 is based on a radio play by Bertolt Brecht called The interrogation of Lucullus, which the poet had written in 1939. During the Nazi-regime, both Brecht and Dessau were exiled from Germany, and later decided to settle down in the Soviet occupation zone. In the founding year of the German Democratic Republic, they worked together on the libretto of “Lucullus” which was intended to criticize the Second World War and any military expansion. Due to Dessau’s modernist musical language and because the criticism on the exploitive ruling was considered too weak by the socialistic leaders, conflicts with the production team emerged. The world premiere, held at the provisionary Admiralspalast of the German State Opera in East-Berlin on 17 March 1951 was a closed event which then led to a huge dispute. The authors were required to make modifications and changes, among other aspects, to the title of the opera from The interrogation of Lucullus to The condemnation of Lucullus. Subsequently, further performances were allowed, and the piece was publicly performed in the repertoire of the state opera.
Bertolt Brecht and Paul Dessau’ Lucullus as a General and Braggart
From the plot: After the ostentatious act of state for his funeral, the roman military leader Lucullus, the dead man is called to court at the realm of shadows. Among his jurors, there are also his victims so that his triumphal victories are judged differently than what he is used to. Not only are his victories being considered but also the victims on his enemies’ side and among his own troops. The final judgement is clear: “Into nothingness with him!”
The choice of instruments in the score is striking. Dessau completely abandons violins and violas and instead includes a percussion section with nine players. The alternation of wind and percussion sounds and the use of low strings results in a contrasting and effective sound pattern.
The fact that I introduce Lucullus with kettledrums and trumpets has nothing in common with the classical cliché of the hero’s introduction. For me, it is meant paradisiacally. I introduce him with kettledrums and trumpets to say, now comes a great braggart. (Paul Dessau)
Further performances at the Staatsoper Stuttgart take place on the 6, 13, 15, and 20 November 2021.
On Friday, October 15, Joseph Schwantner’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra will be first performed at Orchestra Hall Detroit, MI, with violinist Yevgeny Kutik and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Leonard Slatkin.
It is the first work which the 78-year old composer names ‘violin concerto, after former works for solo violin and orchestra carry the titles Angelfire and The Poet’s Hour… The latter being the starting point for the new 30-minute concerto:
The genesis of the violin concerto originally began as a short soliloquy for violin and strings commissioned by the Seattle Symphony to commemorate my friend, Gerard Schwarz’s retirement as the orchestra’s musical director. I had always planned to later expand and re-imagine the music as part of a larger scale work for violin and orchestra. When Gerard also performed the music with his All-Star Orchestra and violinist, Yevgeny Kutik, I was enthralled with Yevgeny’s masterful and nuanced performance. He brings a dramatic and an emotional arc to his impressive technique and captivating musical personality and that vision remained in my mind’s ear all during the writing of the concerto. (Joseph Schwantner)
One day after the premiere, there will be one further concert at the same venue. Both concerts will also be available as live streams.