Schott Music

Skip to Main Content »

2020/06/05

World Premiere of Toshio Hosokawa “Texture” at the Digital Concert Hall by Berlin Philharmonic

Toshio Hosokawa’s new piece, Texture for octet will be premiered at the Digital Concert Hall by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra on June 6th. The first performer is the Philharmonic Octet Berlin.

Texture was co-commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation and the Japan Arts Corporation for the Philharmonic Octet Berlin, and is dedicated to the ensemble. The instrumentation of octet is the same as Octet D803 by Franz Schubert which is the ensemble’s specialty; clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin 2, viola, violoncello and double bass.

The instrumentation is divided into the following 2 groups; a group consisting of a string quartet and another consisting of clarinet, bassoon, horn and double bass. Each group plays melodies with a lively calligraphy-like shape, an unforced linear of the Eastern brushstrokes which is one of the characteristics of Hosokawa’s music. In this piece, like the Yin and Yang of the East, just as polar opposite elements, such as man and woman, high and low, strength and weakness, light and dark coexist and complete each other – become tied together without defeating the other, whilst gradually shaping the sound of the universe.

Toshio Hosokawa
Texture (2020)
for octet

World Premiere

June 6, 2020, 19:00  Philharmonie Berlin (Berlin, Germany)
June 7, 2020, 13:00  Philharmonie Berlin (Berlin, Germany) Broadcast from Digital Concert Hall by Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Philharmonic Octet Berlin (Wenzel Fuchs [clarinet], Mor Biron [bassoon], Stefan Dohr [horn], Daishin Kashimoto, Romano Tommasini [violin], Amihai Grosz [viola], Christoph Igelbrink [cello], Esko Laine [double bass])

2020/03/30

Work of the Week – György Ligeti: Kammerkonzert

Through the myriad compositional styles György Ligeti explored between the 1940s and the 2000s, the composer’s strict focus on form and instrumentation always remained at the forefront of his work. Among the best examples of this is undoubtedly his Kammerkonzert (Chamber Concerto) from the middle period of his output. Exactly 50 years ago, on 5 April 1970, Friedrich Cerha and his ensemble ‘die reihe’ premiered the first two movements of this work in Baltimore. The third movement followed shortly after, premiering that May in Vienna, and the concerto’s final movement was first performed the following October in Berlin. 

The scoring of Kammerkonzert for thirteen players sits at the midpoint between chamber music and a more symphonic texture. The work is highly varied, encompassing passages of extreme density and contrasting sections where individual instruments emerge from the ensemble with exposed melodic lines reminiscent of Schoenberg and Berg’s expressive twelve-note writing, or of virtuosic cadenzas.

György Ligeti – Kammerkonzert: from failure to standard repertoire

The four-movement work is a concerto in the sense that all 13 players are equal and have virtuoso solo tasks. Rather than frequent changes between soli and tutti, there is constant concerto-like cooperation. The parts always flow simultaneously but use different rhythmic configurations and tempi. […] The world premiere of the completed Chamber Concerto in 1970 was a complete failure. Critics wrote that this work massively fell behind my second string quartet, its predecessor. However, as time went by, more and more ensembles performed it multiple times. Nowadays, it is a standard repertoire work because its instrumentation is very fitting for groups like the Asko ensemble. All these things are impossible to anticipate for a composer. – György Ligeti

In advance of Ligetis centenary on 28 May 2023, we invite you to explore his music further. We’ve created an extensive playlist with detailed insights exploring Ligeti’s work follow the link below to find out more.

2020/03/23

Work of the Week – Hans Werner Henze: The Bassarids

With almost every opera house and concert hall around the world closed, we focus this week on a recent production of Hans Werner Henze´s opera The Bassarids, currently available for free on the online platform OperaVision. Reviews of Barrie Kosky´s staging and Vladimir Jurowski´s musical direction were splendid so this is a fantastic opportunity to explore the depths of this opera, considered a pinnacle of not only Henze´s dramatic output but of the entire mid-century classicism in opera.

The libretto for The Bassarids, written by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman, is based on Euripides’ Bacchae; it tells the story of Pentheus, the new ruler of Thebes, banning the cult of Dionysus before being unwittingly drawn into the revelry by Dionysus himself, disguised as a stranger. Pentheus is eventually killed by his own mother, who has mistaken him for a wild animal, before Dionysus reveals his true identity and demands adoration from the Thebans for his revenge against the tyrant. The one-act opera’s large instrumentation and sophisticated libretto make The Bassarids an ambitious project. With Dionysus and Pentheus embodying two extremes of human existence, there is great potential for reference to the present day.

Today I consider The Bassarids, which I now understand to a far greater degree and hold much dearer than when I was composing the work, to be my most important music theatre work. It is […] still relevant for us, but specifically addresses questions associated with the years around 1968: what is freedom and what is bondage? What is repression, what is revolt and what is revolution? This is all in fact demonstrated, insinuated and suggested by Euripides. The multiplicity and richness of relationships, the tangible sensual relationships between the ancient civilisation of this Archaic period and our time are captured in Auden’s text; Euripides is transposed into our time in a manner which could not have been better achieved with the best possible stage production of the original Greek play, as we are constantly reminded of our distance from a different, long-gone civilisation. – Hans Werner Henze

The video will be available to stream on demand until 13 April and a final performance of the Komische Oper Berlin production is scheduled for 26 June.

photo: © Komische Oper Berlin / Monika Rittershaus

2019/09/16

Work of the Week – Kurt Weill: The Seven Deadly Sins

Weill: The Seven Deadly Sins / Staatstheater Stuttgart

The Seven Deadly Sins (Die sieben Todsünden) is one of Kurt Weill’s best-known and most frequently performed works. On 21 September, a new orchestration of the ballet chanté for 15 players will receive its premiere at Beethovenfest Bonn with Ensemble Modern and soloist Sarah Maria Sun conducted by HK Gruber. The new version has been created by Gruber and Christian Muthspiel in collaboration with the Kurt Weill Foundation and Schott Music.

Continue reading “Work of the Week – Kurt Weill: The Seven Deadly Sins”

2018/05/22

Dieter Schnebel – music without limits. On the death of the composer

There must be no victors, not even in the arts… This was the credo Dieter Schnebel shared with artists like John Cage and remained faithful to his whole life. The arts and the world, music and everyday life – these were no contrasts to the composer, church minister, musicologist and teacher who had been born in Lahr in Baden. With compositions like Ki-No, visible music and anschläge – ausschläge he created a new open concept of work which left boundaries in space and time behind and saw the composer as creative trigger, not as completer of the work. As Schnebel understood the performance situation as a truly democratic event, he brought street noise into the concert hall. Even in key works like the vocal work Ekstasis or the opera Majakowskis Tod – Totentanz he consequently denied aesthetic dogmatism any influence. Dieter Schnebel died in Berlin at the age of 88.

In the 1960s, the first performances of his early works, which could only be vaguely described by the notions of concept art and fluxus, were surrounded by scandal. The more Schnebel understood music as almost unconditioned action in experimental and archetypal situations, the more the performer emancipated him- or herself from the composition. No longer did the performer function as servant of an oeuvre completed in itself, but rather the moment when the music was produced became the true content of the work. ‘Not the tones or other acoustic elements make up the musical material but rather the processes of their production,’ Schnebel once outlined his approach.

Schnebel also broke with traditional listening expectations in other respects. In his works, the human voice often became an unleashed organ. All possibilities to produce sounds were allowed – singing, speaking, croaking, but also absolute silence. Concept titles like Körper – Sprachen [Body – Languages] or Laut – Gesten – Laute [Sound – Gestures – Noises] testify to that dissolution of boundaries of the musical material. In addition, the gestures of the performers played an ever-growing role in Schnebel’s art: The frontal concert situation was eliminated. Musicians began to move through the room, while the beginning and end of the concert were no longer discernible as such. ‘The music that once let in its environment in time and space, the sounds and noises of everyday life, … takes to the street and ends who-knows-where.’

In the 1970s the composer began to tour with the ensemble ‘Maulwerker’. As part of his work as teacher of music and religion, he organized concerts of pupils and amateurs, elementary educational approaches which Schnebel refined as professor of experimental music, a chair specially created for him at the Berlin Hochschule der Künste. With his radical open concept of work, however, the composer came up against limiting factors: In 1978 the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Cologne deliberately provoked the failure of a performance of the Orchestra project.

Schnebel’s artistic openness also included openness to tonality. He did not reject tradition at all, but rather interpreted it as a living process ‘…which includes the contemplation of the past, a look at the hidden sources and their lively continuous flow, as well as the openness to what could become of it, a look ahead to the future.’ With his cycle Re-Visionen (Beethoven-Symphonie, Schubert-Phantasie and Wagner-Idyll) he approached the tradition in a creative and ironic way. Schnebel understood musicology as part of a collective memory the relevance of which to today would always have to be verified anew. Schnebel also moved between philosophy and playful humour in the musical chamber theatre work Utopien which, despite all its ironic ease, is characterized by an almost confessional tone. Many things in this work can be explained with the life of a person who always lived transversely to their time, both as a member of the 1968 generation and at the same time as a committed Christian. In the work itself, he understood such utopias as musical abstractions which he did not depict as an artist; however, Schnebel himself never ceased to hold onto utopias which always meant hope to him.

The methods once developed – aleatorics, the experiment as principle, the use of spatial sound – survived until well into the late works. Major works like Ekstasis based on a multi-lingual text collage or the monumental Sinfonie X are the late essence of his oeuvre. Church music was of special concern to the trained theologian throughout his life. Musical art – to Schnebel, this always was an ethic concept, a possible connection between inner and outer world, individual and society – ultimately a universal idea of the possibilities of human existence, too. Most recently, he was in the process of writing a new orchestral work for the hr-Sinfonieorchester, and for the upcoming months several new works were scheduled to be premiered. In a phase of rich and blossoming creativity, Schnebel passed away after short illness on Sunday of Pentecost 2018.

photo: Astrid Kargεr

2017/12/11

Work of the Week: Aribert Reimann – Die schönen Augen der Frühlingsnacht

 

With its images of spring and renewal, Aribert Reimann’s new song cycle for voice and string quartet will keep the cold at bay this winter. Die schönen Augen der Frühlingsnacht was written for soprano Moja Erdmann and the Kuss Quartett who will give the world premiere on 14 December at the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam. Continue reading “Work of the Week: Aribert Reimann – Die schönen Augen der Frühlingsnacht”