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Tagged with 'Vienna'

Work of the Week – György Ligeti: Le Grand Macabre

The anti-anti-opera: Le Grand Macabre by György Ligeti will celebrate its premiere at the Frankfurt Opera on November 5, 2023. Vasily Barhatov will direct the production at the "Opera House of the Year", which has just been named in the music critics' survey of Opernwelt magazine. The new general music director Thomas Guggeis will be conducting in the pit, while the "Opera Choir of the Year" will perform on stage, along with many solos. This is the first of four major productions of the work in the current season, which celebrates the 100th birthday of Ligeti, who was born in 1923. At Vienna, the State Opera is opening the new production by director Jan Lauwers on November 11, with Pablo Heras-Casado conducting.

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Work of the Week – Elisabeth Naske: Lollo

Interrupting the performance? Yes please! The interactive musical theatre work Lollo by Elisabeth Naske celebrates its premiere on 02 June 2023 at the Dschungel Wien in a production by Ela Baumann featuring Florian Fennes on solo clarinet and vocalist Marie-Christiane Nishimwe.

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Work of the Week – György Ligeti: Kammerkonzert

Through the myriad compositional styles György Ligeti explored between the 1940s and the 2000s, the composer’s strict focus on form and instrumentation always remained at the forefront of his work. Among the best examples of this is undoubtedly his Kammerkonzert (Chamber Concerto) from the middle period of his output. Exactly 50 years ago, on 5 April 1970, Friedrich Cerha and his ensemble ‘die reihe’ premiered the first two movements of this work in Baltimore. The third movement followed shortly after, premiering that May in Vienna, and the concerto’s final movement was first performed the following October in Berlin. 

The scoring of Kammerkonzert for thirteen players sits at the midpoint between chamber music and a more symphonic texture. The work is highly varied, encompassing passages of extreme density and contrasting sections where individual instruments emerge from the ensemble with exposed melodic lines reminiscent of Schoenberg and Berg’s expressive twelve-note writing, or of virtuosic cadenzas.

György Ligeti – Kammerkonzert: from failure to standard repertoire

The four-movement work is a concerto in the sense that all 13 players are equal and have virtuoso solo tasks. Rather than frequent changes between soli and tutti, there is constant concerto-like cooperation. The parts always flow simultaneously but use different rhythmic configurations and tempi. [...] The world premiere of the completed Chamber Concerto in 1970 was a complete failure. Critics wrote that this work massively fell behind my second string quartet, its predecessor. However, as time went by, more and more ensembles performed it multiple times. Nowadays, it is a standard repertoire work because its instrumentation is very fitting for groups like the Asko ensemble. All these things are impossible to anticipate for a composer. - György Ligeti

In advance of Ligetis centenary on 28 May 2023, we invite you to explore his music further. We’ve created an extensive playlist with detailed insights exploring Ligeti’s work follow the link below to find out more.

Work of the Week – Johann Strauss: Die Fledermaus

On 21 October, the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) will stage their first complete operetta at the Lee Foundation Theatre in celebration of their 80th anniversary. The operetta is Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, which will be directed by David Edwards and conducted by Lim Yau, with a cast and orchestra made up of students, teachers and alumni of NAFA. The operetta will be sung in German, with spoken dialogue in English and Mandarin.

NAFA are using the New Johann Strauss Complete Edition of Die Fledermaus which has been edited by Michael Rot to provide a more complete and reliable copy of the score. Unlike other editions, it includes the finales for the first and third act and the opening of the second act, as intended by Strauss. The new edition also builds on previous editions with corrections in phrasing, tempo and dynamics, as well as in the sung melodies and instrumentation, and misunderstood text passages are amended. The new edition thus enhances the original by clarifying uncertainties and bringing the operetta’s musical contours into superior focus.

Johann Strauss – Die Fledermaus: from Vienna to Singapore

NAFA’s production of Die Fledermaus transports the operetta in present-day Singapore, where the wealthy art dealer Gabriel von Eisenstein comes into conflict with the law and is sentenced to prison. Eisenstein bids farewell to his wife Rosalinde and the housemaid Adele as he leaves for prison, but then decides to evade jail for one night so that he can attend Prince Orlofsky’s lavish party with his friend Dr Falke.  Adele and Rosalinde also head to Prince Orlofsky’s party on Dr Falke’s invitation, but in disguise as an actress and a Countess. At the party, Eisenstein flirts with the disguised Rosalinde, trying to convince her to share her real identity. After much frivolity, the following morning comes with the revelation that it was all a joke orchestrated by Dr. Falke.
Perhaps Die Fledermaus is a masterpiece precisely because the music functions as a dramaturgical hub and thus forms an inseparable unity with the text, where each one first learns its identity in the mirror of the other. – Michael Rot

NAFA will stage two repeat performances on 22 and 23 October, and two further productions of the New Johann Strauss Complete Edition of Die Fledermaus will be presented this year on 10 November by Theater Freiburg and 21 December by Opéra de Lausanne.


©  Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts

Work of the Week – Thomas Larcher: Symphony No. 2

On 28 August, Thomas Larcher’s Symphony No. 2 ‘Kenotaph’ will receive its UK premiere at the BBC Proms in London, played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Semyon Bychkov. Bychkov, to whom the symphony is dedicated, conducted the world premiere with the Vienna Philharmonic earlier this year on 3 June in Vienna.

While his earlier compositions primarily extended from his wealth of experience as a chamber musician, Larcher has progressively ventured into larger orchestral writing, beginning with Red and Green (2010). This later became the creative groundwork to his first symphony Alle Tage for baritone and orchestra (2015) following the success of A Padmore Cycle (2014) for tenor and orchestra.

Thomas Larcher’s Symphony No. 2 - “a grave for lost and forgotten souls”

Symphony No. 2 is a 35-minute long, four-movement symphony that still maintains in passages the more intimate sounds of how it was originally envisioned - as a concerto for orchestra. Written for a large orchestra with prominent percussion, Larcher’s composition traverses diverse levels of musical energy, seeking ways to find tonality and structure that is at once exploratory yet aware of classical tradition and form. The symphony’s subtitle ‘Kenotaph’ (cenotaph) refers to monuments erected to commemorate those killed in war, or in the composer’s own words, “graves for lost and forgotten souls”. Feeling anguish over the continuing European immigrant crisis in particular, Larcher poured his feeling into this work.
Thousands upon thousands of people drowned in the Mediterranean while all of Europe stood on the sidelines idly observing this tragedy or even looking away. [The symphony] is a symbol for what has been going on and is still going on in the middle of Europe. – Thomas Larcher

Performances of Larcher’s works in the next few months include Ouroboros for cello and chamber orchestra by the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra on 13 September with cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras and conductor Per Kristian Skalstad, and by the BBC Philharmonic on 13 October with cellist Matthew Barley and Ben Gernon conducting. On 6 October, Edward Gardner will conduct A Padmore Cycle with tenor Mark Padmore and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. The Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich conducted by Yutaka Sado will perform Red and Green in Austria from 7-10 October.

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.