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Tagged with 'Budapest'

Work of the Week – Peter Eötvös: Valuska

A debut work at the age of almost 80: The new opera Valuska is the first of Peter Eötvös' 13 operas that the Hungarian composer wrote in his native language. Eötvös celebrates his 80th birthday on 02 January 2024. To mark this occasion, the new work will be premiered on 02 December 2023 at the Hungarian State Opera Budapest. It will be conducted by Kálmán Szennai and staged by Bence Varga.

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Work of the Week – Fazil Say: Concerto

We want more trumpets! In Fazil Say’s exciting new work Concerto, he features not only one, but two solo trumpets! World-renowned virtuosos Gábor Boldoczki and Sergei Nakariakov will perform the world premiere with the FOK Prague Symphony Orchestra and conductor Andrey Boreyko on 13 May 2023 in Budapest’s spectacular Béla Bartók National Concert Hall.

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Work of the Week – Krzysztof Penderecki: 3. Sinfonie

The Passacaglia from Krzysztof Penderecki’s 3. Sinfonie features in choreographer Goyo Montero’s latest dance piece, Dürer’s Dog. Inspired by the paintings of German renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer, the premiere will be on 25 November at the Staatstheater in Nuremburg.

In the 1980s, Penderecki was commissioned to write a symphonic work but although he began writing immediately, only the current fourth movement, Passacaglia, and a Rondo, which would become the second movement, were completed by the premiere in 1988. It would take until 1995 for the work to be performed in its entirety. The piece is rooted firmly in the tradition of the genre with its five movements connected by overarching themes and structures.

Krzysztof Penderecki – 3.Sinfonie: Passacaglia’s life of its own

Passacaglia made its way into the conscience of millions of filmgoers when it featured in Martin Scorsese’s thriller Shutter Island (2010) starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Penderecki’s use of constant repetition and harsh rhythmic fragments were a perfect accompaniment to the film’s atmosphere of apprehension and discomfort.
One cannot simply plant a few trees, it needs order and a shape. It is similar to music: all my works have a clear form - I am not an improvisator. - Krzysztof Penderecki

Dürer’s Dog will run from 25 November until 9 February 2018. Penderecki’s 2. Sinfonie (Christmas Symphony) can be heard on 14 December in Budapest with the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra and Keri-Lynn Wilson.

Work of the Week – Jean Sibelius: Violin Concerto

Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D minor is a well-established piece in the solo violin repertoire. This month alone, the work will be performed by four different orchestras: on 11 December by the Kodály Philharmonic Debrecen in Budapest, on 11 and 12 by the Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal as well as the Rotterdam Student Orkest and finally on 18 December by the Badische Philharmonie Pforzheim.

The Concerto begins with a quiet, foggy soundscape of muted tremolo strings, over which the mysterious melody of the solo violin emerges, expressivity outlining the first themes of the movement. Sibelius conceived this effective opening while travelling in 1901, in what was the beginning of an inspired compositional process. Sibelius had aspired to be a virtuoso violinist himself for many years and the Violin Concerto is the largest work he composed for his own instrument. However, many passages of the Concerto are likely to have exceeded Sibelius’ own abilities, for instance the prolonged cadenza in the first movement containing highly demanding double stops.

Sibelius' Violin Concerto - Warmth in a Nordic winter

By and large, Sibelius adheres to the traditional concerto structure of three movements. In the second movement, ‘Adagio’, the orchestra evokes the melancholy of a gloomy Scandinavian Winter, which is mitigated by the warm tone of the solo violin. Thematically connected to the Adagio, the work’s finale is a virtuosic Rondo making use of extended technique with a relentlessly pounding pulse in three-quarter time.
[Sibelius] stays up all night, plays beautifully, cannot let go of the enchanted notes. It’s incredible how many ideas he has. And all his motives are so ripe for development, so full of life. – Aino Sibelius

The Violin Concerto was premiered under the direction of the composer on 8 February 1904. Although Sibelius had intended Willy Burmester to perform as soloist, Burmester was replaced by the alledgedly overworked Viktor Nováèek. Perhaps in consequence, critical reactions were mixed. Some lauded the richness of the Concerto’s ideas, while others criticized it as being too unclear in its development and too technically demanding. Sibelius was unhappy with this reception and revised the work, reducing its dissonances and simplifying the solo part.

Schott Music now represents the publisher Robert Linau internationally, making many great works by Jean Sibelius, Carl Maria von Weber, and others a valuable part of the Schott catalogue. Performance material for Sibelius' Violin Concerto can by hired from Schott in the 1905 revised version and the original 1904 version, which was only made available for performance in 2015.



Photo: San­teri Levas

Work of the Week – Peter Eötvös: Halleluja – Oratorium balbulum

On 30 July, Peter Eötvös’ Halleluja - Oratorium balbulum will receive its world premiere at the Salzburg Festival as part of the ‘Ouverture Spirtiuelle’ series, performed by the Vienna Philharmonic and Hungarian Radio Choir under Daniel Harding.

Halleluja is Eötvös’ first symphonic vocal work, scored for vocal soloists, choir and orchestra, and will be dedicated to his close friend, the late author Péter Esterházy, who collaborated with Eötvös on the oratorio’s libretto.

Choir, angels, narrator and a stuttering prophet

Esterházy and Eötvös devised Halleluja as a 'meta-oratorio', in which the characters demonstrate self-awareness of their parts, recognising their roles are constructed and exist within an artistic performance. Throughout, Eötvös includes fragments of existing hallelujahs from a variety of musical periods ranging from baroque cantatas to gospel music. Examples include Bach’s Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, Handel’s Messiah, and Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. For his prophet protagonist, Esterházy drew upon the figure of Notker Babulus, a monk also known as Notker the Stammerer. The oratorio explores themes of personal identity intended to resonate with contemporary political environments. Eötvös renders Notker, a figure from the dark ages, into a symbol of our time:
Nowadays, it is almost impossible to be a prophet because everything is unpredictable, and so the oratorio is not really a portrait of Notker, but rather a reflection of our time. As the work unfolds, the chorus as representative of the masses becomes increasingly assertive and critical. – Peter Eötvös

Harding will conduct two more performances of Halleluja on 23 November in Vienna and 24 November in Budapest. Next year, Eötvös will preside as ‘Creative Chair’ at Tonhalle Zürich and on 22 March, he will conduct the Tonhalle Orchestra in the Swiss premiere of Halleluja alongside his percussion concerto Speaking drums. On 1 August, he will conduct his chamber work Sonata per sei with Klangforum Wien at the Salzburg Festival.