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“One of the great operatic achievements of our time” turns 20: The Second Mrs Kong

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 24 Oktober 2014

It’s been 20 years since Harrison Birtwistle’s 2-act opera The Second Mrs Kong was performed for the very first time on 24 October 1994 in Glyndebourne.

Die zweite Mrs. Kong, Wiener Operntheater When he reviewed the opera’s production of 2004 (which was also the latest production of the work), Andrew Clements of the Guardian described the work as “one of the great operatic achievements of our time.” (Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 11 November 2004).

Earlier, The Second Mrs Kong had received similar praise in Germany when a translated version was staged in 1996:

“eine kongeniale Vermittlung zwischen Tradition und Moderne […] Ein verspielter Geniestreich” (Reinhard J. Brembeck, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 28.02.1996)

Die zweite Mrs. Kong ist eine Perle unter den neuen Opern – hörfreundlich, amüsant, gefühlig” (Christina Osterwald, Die Rheinpfalz, 12.03.1996)

Happy Birthday Mrs Kong!

There’s also great news for another opera by Birtwistle: director Leonard Prinsloo’s and conductor Walter Kobéra’s Neue Oper Wien production of Punch and Judy has won the Arte Audience Award and the Award for Best Production. Find out more on the website of the Neue Oper Wien.

Watch the production of Punch and Judy on arte:

World première of the reduced version of Halffter’s Elegías

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 24 Oktober 2014

Cristóbal Halffter (c) Universal Edition, Eric MarinitschRamón Tebar will conduct tonight’s world première of the reduced version of Cristóbal Halffter’s Elegías a la muerte de tres poetas españoles at the Auditorio Nacional de Música. Follow-up performances of the orchestral work are scheduled for on 25 and 26 October.

Cristóbal Halffter: Elegías a la muerte de tres poetas españoles
for orchestra, reduced version | 30'
24.10.2014, Auditorio Nacional de Música, Madrid; Orquesta Nacionales de España, cond. Ramón Tebar

Remembering Luciano Berio

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 24 Oktober 2014

Luciano Berio (c) Universal Edition, Eric Marinitsch 

Today, 24 October, would have been Luciano Berio’s 89th birthday.

As you can see on our performance calendar of Berio’s works, the composer’s music is highly valued and frequently performed, and we’d like to draw special attention to the Staatstheater Kassel’s upcoming production of Un re in ascolto, which is scheduled for next May.

View the Centro Studi Luciano Berio’s entry on the 24th of October and their captivating page Per Luciano.

Read an extract from Umberto Eco’s article on Luciano Berio published in „Nuove Prospettive” (edited by Angela Ida De Benedictis) in our Musikblätter 4.

UE Newsletter mid-October 2014

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 21 Oktober 2014

UE Newsletter, Photo: Oper StuttgartHere’s our latest digital newsletter:

- Wolfgang Rihm’s Jakob Lenz at the Opera House Stuttgart

- Hans Krása’s long-thought lost opera Verlobung im Traum in Karlsruhe

- 6 UE world premières in October

View the newsletter online: German | English

Find out more: German | English

Bedford and Fennessy shortlisted for the British Composer Awards

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 21 Oktober 2014

British Composer Awards

Congratulations to Luke Bedford, David Fennessy and Harrison Birtwistle, who have all been shortlisted for the 2014 British Composer Awards.

Bedford’s shortlisted single-movement work Renewal was premièred on 22 May at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Sian Edwards conducted the London Sinfonietta.

The composer on Renewal:

“Renewal is about creating something new from the rubble of each previous section. The piece is a celebration of renewal and regrowth, written in the full knowledge of its impermanence.”

Read the full text and listen to an audio excerpt of Renewal.

Fennessy’s Hauptstimme for amplified solo viola and ensemble was first performed in Huddersfield by violist Garth Knox and the Red Note Ensemble (cond. Garry Walker).

Read a work introduction by Fennessy and listen to an audio excerpt of Hauptstimme.

Luke Bedford: Renewal
View the full score of


David Fennessy: Hauptstimme
View the full score of


Klangforum Wien: Sound as Will

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 17 Oktober 2014

Here's a look at the rehearsals of Wolfgang Rihm’s Sound As Will with the Klangforum Wien. The 20-minute piece for trumpet and ensemble will be performed for the very first time at the Donaueschinger Musiktage this Saturday morning, 11:00.

Klangforum Wien (c) Klangforum Wien

In the photo: conductor Ilan Volkov, composer Wolfgang Rihm, trumpet player Marco Blaauw and members of the Klangforum Wien.

The concert will be broadcast by SWR2, listen live.

World premiére of Cerha’s Nacht in Donaueschingen

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 17 Oktober 2014

Friedrich Cerha (c) Frank Helmrich

The world première of Friedrich Cerha’s orchestral piece Nacht will open the Donaueschinger Musiktage tonight together with premières by Hans Zender, Manos Tsangaris and Hanspeter Kyburz.

SWR2The concert starts at 20:00 and will be broadcast by SWR2, listen live.

Cerha on Nacht:

“Composers are expected to operate as men of literature. They are supposed to write introductions to their works, author essays, give lectures. That means there are then musical elements in the foreground which are well presentable using linguistic means, or else – which is more often the case – ideologically and fashionably coloured aspects which are not necessarily crucially germane to the work concerned. Therefore scepticism could indeed be appropriate when considering what composers write; in reality, they are considered an authority in an area in which they are in fact dilettantes.”

Read the composer’s full work introduction.

Friedrich Cerha: Nacht
für Orchester | 20'
17.10.2014, Donaueschingen; SWR-SO Baden-Baden und Freiburg, Dir. Emilio Pomàrico

Vox Clamantis pay tribute to Arvo Pärt

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 17 Oktober 2014


On the occasion of the Gerhard Richter exhibition at Fondation Beyeler, the renowned Estonian Gregorian chant ensemble Vox Clamantis paid homage to Arvo Pärt this August.
The Fondation Beyeler has uploaded a video of the stunning performance on YouTube:

Pärt had dedicated his choral work Drei Hirtenkinder aus Fátima to Richter, which was performed for the very first time at the exhibition.

Adrian Searle of The Guardian has recently published an article on the art of Gerhard Richter. Richter on his Double Grey paintings and Arvo Pärt: “We tried to make something together. He wrote a composition, and I made these.”

Read the full article on The Guardian.

Arvo Pärt receives the Praemium Imperiale

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 16 Oktober 2014

On 15 October the Japan Art Association in Tokyo presented Arvo Pärt with the prestigious Praemium Imperiale cultural award, considered equal to the Nobel Prize in the field of culture.

Watch a video of the press conference on YouTube:

Read more about the event on the website of the Arvo Pärt Centre.

Find out more about Arvo Pärt on our Blog titled Arvo Pärt in his 80th year.

Hungarian première of Vykintas Baltakas’ Lift to Dubai

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 14 Oktober 2014

Can sound alone grasp the feeling of a city?

Vykintas Baltakas (c) Astrid AckermannVykintas Baltakas’ Lift to Dubai, which was composed in 2009 in the frame of the music project into…, will have its Hungarian première on 16 October at the Budapest Music Center. The première will take place as a part of a fringe event of the Anno 2004… concert, which celebrates ten years of the Péter Eötvös Contemporary Music Foundation.

The concert is preceded by a public meeting with Peter Eötvös, Vykintas Baltakas, Genoël von Lilienstern and Dai Fujikura. A newly revised version of the work for ensemble and electronics will be performed.

View the newly revised score of Lift to Dubai and read an introduction by the composer.

Vykintas Baltakas: Lift to Dubai
for ensemble and electronics | 28'
Hungarian prem. 16.10.2014, Budapest Music Center, Budapest; UMZE Kammerorchester, Dir. Ulrich Pöhl

Live: Punch and Judy

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 14 Oktober 2014 (Kommentare: 1)

Punch and Judy (c) ARTE

Director Leonard Prinsloo’s and conductor Walter Kobéra’s new production of Harrison Birtwistle’s Punch and Judy will be live streamed tonight by arte.

The“tragical comedy or comical tragedy in 1 act” is performed at the Armel Opera Festival at the Erkel Theatre in Budapest.

View the full score of Punch and Judy.

The stream starts in a little less than 6 hours from now, at 19:00 CET/CEST, and will be available until 14 April 2015.

Harrison Birtwistle: Punch and Judy
A tragical comedy or comical tragedy in 1 act | 110'
14.10.2014, Erkel Theatre, Budapest; Jennifer Yoon, Pretty Polly (witch); Manuela Leonhartsberger, Judy (fortune-teller); Richard Rittelmann, Punch; Lorin Wey, Lawyer; Till von Orlowsky, Choregos (Jack Ketch); Johannes Schwendinger, Doctor; Evamaria Mayer, Dancer; Amadeus ensemble-wien, cond. Walter Kobéra

Richard Uttley launches Ghosts & Mirrors

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 13 Oktober 2014

Pianist Richard Uttley will present his latest recording Ghosts & Mirrors on Wednesday 15 October at 8pm at The Forge in Camden.

Richard Uttley: Ghosts & MirrorsAt the CD launch, Uttley will play a selection of the pieces from the disc and will be joined onstage by Nat Urazmetova, a London-based visual artist who created the artwork for the disc and will mix live visuals in response to the music.

Included on the CD are the Luciano Berio’s 6 Encores and the first recording of Alban Berg’s/Marvin Wolfthal’s Lulu Fantasy, a paraphrase of Alban Berg’s great opera Lulu in the spirit of Liszt’s virtuoso opera arrangements (it was also Richard Uttley who performed the UK première of the piece).

The pianist on working with Nat Urazmetova:

I wanted to work with Nat as the aesthetic of her work is the closest thing I could find to a visual representation of my feelings on the atmosphere and concerns of the works I chose to record for Ghosts & Mirrors. Themes explored by the music include hauntings, rebirth, symmetry and warping – all of which are expressed either directly or obliquely by Nat’s images.

Read the full text on his blog.

“An excellent ‘first contact’ recording”: The Finnish RSO plays Ligeti

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 10 Oktober 2014

Ligeti (c) Ondine“My music is not an island. It is part of a complex web of life and experiences.” (György Ligeti)

Aimed to present an overview to the development of György Ligeti’s compositional technique over a period of 30 years, violinist Benjamin Schmid, conductor Hannu Lintu and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra have recently released a recording of orchestral works by Ligeti on Ondine.

With the Examiner reviewing it is “an excellent ‘first contact’ recording” and Music Web International describing it an “ideal place to obtain a good sampling of Ligeti’s music”, they most definitely have succeeded at that.

The recording includes Atmosphères, which is part of Universal Edition’s Listening Lab series. Here are sample pages of the bilingual publication:

The Guardian reviews Katrien Baerts, Het Collectief and Reinbert de Leeuw

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 09 Oktober 2014

Berg, Zemlsinksy: Lieder (c) Zig Zag TerritoiresAndrew Clements of The Guardian has reviewed a recent release by soprano Katrien Baerts, the Flemish ensemble Het Collectief and conductor Reinbert de Leeuw. The CD includes Berg’s Seven Early Songs (arranged by de Leeuw himself), Zemlinsky’s Six Maeterlinck Songs and Webern’s Passacaglia.

Read the full review on The Guardian. You can order the CD, listen to excerpts and view the complete booklet on the website of Zig-Zag Territoires.

The NYT reviews dark dreams

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 08 Oktober 2014

Georg Friedrich Haas (c) Astrid AckermannThe New York Times’ review of Georg Friedrich Haas’ dark dreams, performed for the first time in America by Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic last Monday, is out.

Find out whether this “fascinating 23-minute piece” managed to persuade the audience on the New York Times.