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Work of the week – Jörg Widmann: Tanz auf dem Vulkan

Internationally, Jörg Widmann has achieved great success as a clarinetist, composer and increasingly as a conductor. On 27 May, the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle will premiere Widmann’s new work Tanz auf dem Vulkan (Dance on the Volcano), which was commissioned by the orchestra as part of their “tapas” concert series, and dedicated to Sir Simon who will leave his post as the orchestra’s principal conductor this year.

Although the work is written for Sir Simon, it begins without a conductor. Instead, the percussionist counts the orchestra in with drumsticks, and the conductor walks on stage to join in over the course of the first eleven bars.

Jörg Widmann – Tanz auf dem Vulkan: Love for all music, past and present

For Widmann, established tradition and contemporary exploration in music are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, Widmann openly refers to past musical conventions in his works, yet creates something completely new in his examination on the past.

“Over the past few years, I have been closely involved with the Berlin Philharmonic in an intense musical partnership and was therefore only too pleased to fulfill their request to compose a short farewell piece for Sir Simon. My composition has evolved into an insistently explosive work. The job description for a chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic is these four words, in my opinion very aptly described: Dance on the volcano.”
– Jörg Widmann

The Berlin Philharmonic will perform Tanz auf dem Vulkan at the Royal Festival Hall in London on 31 May, at the Musikverein Wien in 2 June and at the Philharmonie Köln on 6 June. The Spanish premiere will follow at the Auditorio Nacional de Música on 7 June in Madrid.