Schott Music

Skip to Main Content »


Work of the week – Thomas Larcher: Chiasma

To celebrate the inauguration of the new Gewandhaus conductor Andris Nelsons and the 275th anniversary of the orchestra, the Gewandhausorchester will perform the world premiere of Thomas Larcher’s new orchestral work Chiasma in Leipzig on 15 March.

The work was commissioned by the Gewandhausorchester especially for this occasion. Larcher challenged himself to compose a 10 minute piece containing the development of an entire world, which he describes as a ‘compressed microsymphony’. Within this ‘compressed microsymphony’, Larcher shows a world with tenderness, beauty, brutality and futility.

Thomas Larcher – Chiasma: Biology as the model for a compositional method

The title of the work, Chiasma, meaning a “crossing”, is from the Greek letter X (pronounced “ki”). It is defined anatomically as the crossing of the optic nerves in the brain, or within a genetic context as ‘a cross shaped configuration of paired chromatids’. This meaning reminded Larcher of the primordial elements of composition: confrontation, development and synthesis. Likewise with the structure of the piece Chiasma the composer refers to this primal biological principle:

 “This piece develops out of several very simple motifs, quickly evolves in disparate directions through the juxtaposition – ‘confrontation’ – of these motifs, and achieves a distinct dramatic ‘double-peak climax’ before collapsing into itself.” – Thomas Larcher

After the two performances in Leipzig, Nelsons and the Gewandhausorchester will tour the work throughout Europe with seven performances between March 15 and May 6, including at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and the Philharmonie Paris among others. The UK premiere of Chiasma will be given on 24 May 2019 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo as part of Larcher’s three concert ‘Composer Focus’ during Spring 2019.