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Work of the week – Fazil Say: Istanbul Symphony

March 27th, 2017

Fazil Say’s momentous Istanbul Symphony opens and closes with sounds of the sea. In between, Say creates a portrait of the city in seven contrasting movements. On 29 March, Say’s Symphony can be heard in Stuttgart with the SWR Symphonieorchester and conductor Gregor Mayrhofer.

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Work of the week – Richard Ayres: The Cricket Recovers

March 20th, 2017

Richard Ayres’ acclaimed chamber opera No. 39: The Cricket Recovers receives its Swiss premiere at Theater Basel on 22 March directed by Daniela Kranz with conductor Stephen Delaney. Premiered at the 2005 Aldeburgh Festival, it has since been presented throughout Europe by the likes of Staatsoper Stuttgart and the Holland Festival.

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Work of the week – Ludger Vollmer: Tschick

March 13th, 2017

During the summer holidays, 14-year-old Maik sets off with his friend Tschick in a stolen truck through East Germany in the direction of Walachia – a Romainian region and the German euphemism for “the middle of nowhere”. It’s a destination they will never reach, but the journey to freedom is full of adventures and bizarre encounters. Adapting the bestseller “Why We Took the Car” by Wolfgang Herrndorf, Ludger Vollmer’s Tschick – Road Opera premieres at Theater Hagen on 18 March with director Roman Hovenbitzer and conductor Florian Ludwig.

Ludger Vollmer, who has brought topical issues for young audiences to the stage in Gegen die Wand and Lola rennt has created another opera for young adults with this coming-of-age story. In Tschick, there are no traditional acts to divide the plot; instead the scenes are “departures” matching the protagonists’ journey, with a variety of settings: a dump, an old quarry, and an overturned pig truck. The music lies on the edge of conventional opera, incorporating fast and frantic vocal lines in the style of punk singer Nina Hagen:

The dynamic music gives the plot an additional emotional, sometimes comical drive. Many of the more profound psychological layers of Herrndorf’s story, possessing fascinating philosophical aspects despite the punk exterior, only become visible through the music. – Ludger Vollmer

Following the premiere, Tschick will run until 8 July at Theater Hagen. It is due to be performed again in Germany in January 2018.

Photo: Iakov Kalinin/ Adobe Stock

Work of the Week – Erich Wolfgang Korngold: The Adventures of Robin Hood

March 6th, 2017

The Adventures of Robin Hood, with music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, is a classic of cinematic history. In a series of “Music from the Movies” concerts beginning 9 March in Portsmouth, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra performs the symphonic suite of this three-time Oscar-winning adventure film.

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Work of the week – Ryan Wigglesworth: The Winter’s Tale

February 27th, 2017

On 27 February Ryan Wigglesworth’s first opera The Winter’s Tale will receive its world premiere on the main stage at English National Opera. The production is directed by the acclaimed Shakespearean actor Rory Kinnear and features an exceptional cast that includes Iain Paterson, Sophie Bevan and Leigh Melrose. Ryan Wigglesworth himself will conduct.

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Work of the week – Richard Wagner: Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg

February 20th, 2017

On 19 February, Opéra de Monte-Carlo will present the Paris version of Wagner’s Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg with Argentinean tenor José Cura in the lead role, conducted by Nathalie Stutzmann and directed by Jean-Louis Grinda.

The so-called Paris version of Tannhäuser originates from the 1861 Paris performance, which differs in both libretto and score from the opera’s 1845 Dresden premiere. Charles Nuitter translated the opera’s libretto, in close collaboration with Wagner. Musically, Wagner adapted his work to follow the conventions of Parisian opera, but the Paris version was also influenced by Wagner’s compositional development: by this time he had written Tristan und Isolde. The Parisian premiere was not an immediate success, but nevertheless increased Wagner’s popularity in France and to this day is viewed as equal to the Dresden original. Wagner said of the Paris version:

I will therefore write a completely new and more highly developed music for the first scene (call it a ballet) and undertake significant alterations and nominal extensions to Venus whilst retaining the best motifs: for this purpose I have composed new poetic verses for the end of the scene. – Richard Wagner

The determining conflict between excessive and chaste love is most distinct in the Paris version of Tannhäuser. The new opening scene is an extended orgiastic bacchanale contrasting dramatically with the displays of innocent love in the opera. A further addition in the Paris version is the duet at the end of the Venusberg scene, which is clearly related to Tristan und Isolde in its harmonic shape and instrumentation.

Wagner’s Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg: Three versions at a glance

As part of the Richard Wagner Complete Edition, editors Egon Voss, Peter Jost and Reinhard Strohm have dedicated more than thirty years to producing a comprehensive guide to the genesis of Tannhäuser. Based on this edition, Schott Music has published a score, orchestral parts and a piano reduction. These allow comparison between the Dresden and Paris versions, as well as the 1875 Vienna version. Wagner never gave the work a definitive form, leaving the opportunity to combine the different versions in performance.

Evening conversation with Richard concludes with the Shepherd’s song and Pilgrim’s chorus from Tannhäuser. He says he still owes the world Tannhäuser. – diary entry of Cosima Wagner

Tannhäuser und der Sängerkreig auf Wartburg will run from 19 – 28 February at Opéra de Monte-Carlo.

Photo: Alain Hanel

Work of the week: György Ligeti – Le Grand Macabre

February 13th, 2017

This month the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle will present György Ligeti’s opera Le Grand Macabre in a semi-staged production directed by Peter Sellars. Earlier this year the same production was presented by the London Symphony Orchestra also conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.

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Work of the week: Gerald Barry – Humiliated and Insulted

February 6th, 2017

This week, Gerald Barry’s Humiliated and Insulted receives its world premiere in Dublin on 10 February. This bold new work for chorus and orchestra will be performed by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and RTÉ Philharmonic Choir with conductor Hans Graf.

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Work of the week: Erich Wolfgang Korngold – Das Wunder der Heliane

January 30th, 2017

This year marks the 120th anniversary of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, who would have celebrated his birthday in May. In honour of this occasion, Korngold’s opera Das Wunder der Heliane (The miracle of Heliane) will be performed this week in concert by the Volksoper Wien with conductor Jac van Steen.

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Work of the Week: Peter Eötvös – Love and Other Demons

January 23rd, 2017

On 27 January, the Hungarian premiere of Peter Eötvös’ opera, Love and Other Demons, will take place at the Hungarian State Opera in Budapest. The 2008 world premiere at the Glyndebourne Festival was directed by Silviu Purcãrete, who also directs here, and Eötvös himself will conduct. The opera bases its libretto on and takes its title from Gabriel García Márquez’s novel Del amor y otros demonios.

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