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2016/08/29

Work of the Week – Julian Anderson: Incantesimi

The Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle will give two national premieres of Julian Anderson’s new orchestral work Incantesimi this week at the Lucerne Festival on Wednesday 31 August and at the BBC Proms on Saturday 3 September.

Written with this orchestra’s particular colour in mind, Incantesimi is an 8-minute glittering exploration of orbiting musical ideas. Following its world premiere in Berlin in June, the Berlin Philharmonic have taken the piece on tour to Rotterdam, Lucerne, and culminating with the UK premiere at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

Incantesimi (meaning ‘spells’ or ‘enchantments’ in Italian) is based on five musical ideas which circle around each other, sometimes accompanying in the background, sometimes rising to the foreground. The work is characterised by a recurring Cor Anglais solo, a long arching string figure, low chords, and bell chords in the middle and high registers. The piece unfolds slowly in what the composer describes as an “almost hypnotic state”, which lends the work its title. Toward the end of the work, the tempo dramatically shifts, bringing about an eruption of sound. This subsides and the music continues its orbit to close the piece.

When Sir Simon Rattle asked me to compose a work for the Berlin Philharmonic, I decided to write a piece which focused upon line and timbre unfolding at a slow rate. I have always admired the ability of Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic to play long, flowing musical lines with exceptional beauty of tone. – Julian Anderson

A co-commission between the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation, the Royal Philharmonic Society and Boston Symphony Orchestra, Incantesimi will be given its US premiere by the BSO on 26 January 2017 followed by performances on 27 and 28 January at Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts.