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Work of the Week – Peter Eötvös: Focus

You have certainly watched a silent film before. But have you ever seen a film without a picture? This is exactly what Peter Eötvös is trying to achieve in his new work Focus – a piece of music in which the ear is guided as if by a camera. The concerto for saxophone and orchestra will be premiered at the Funkhaus am Wallrafplatz in Cologne on 15 January 2022. Saxophone soloist Marcus Weiss will play alongside the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln conducted by Elena Schwarz.

Focus – The first saxophone concerto written by Peter Eötvös

Eötvös found inspiration for Focus in the world of film. He describes the work as a kind of “sound camera” whose focus switches between different levels, like a film camera. The solo instrument functions here as a front plane, while the orchestra forms the background. The audience can thus be guided by Eötvös’ camera work while listening.

The saxophone has been very close to me since my childhood because it sounds like I’m singing myself. While composing, I was constantly searching for an individual voice for this work and the characteristics of this instrument. Saxophones feature frequently in my orchestral compositions and I’ve written a saxophone quartet, but Focus is my first work with the saxophone as a solo instrument. Peter Eötvös

Focus was jointly co-commissioned by WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Sinfonieorchester Basel and L’Orchestre National de Lille. The premiere in Cologne will be broadcast live by WDR 3. The national premiere in Switzerland is scheduled to take place at the Stadtcasino Basel on 16 February 2022.



photo: Daniel Dittus