In his 80th year, Harrison Birtwistle agreed to let his godson, the wildlife filmmaker Tom Mustill, spend time with him in his home, his beautiful garden and the shed in which he composes. The resulting filmed portrait is a touching study of a composer's solitary, strange and satisfying life as well as being an invaluable record of Harrison Birtwistle's working methods.
The BBC have recently revealed the programme for the 2014 BBC Proms season, which runs from 18 July to 13 September. We are very proud to see that 15 works from the UE catalogue have found their way into the programme. The full details of the season are available on the website of the BBC Proms 2014. The booking opens on 17 May.
All concerts will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
Leoš Janáček: Glagolitic Mass
for soloists, mixed choir, organ and orchestra | 45'
24.07.2014, Royal Albert Hall; Mlada Khudoley, s; Yulia Matochkina, ms; Mikhail Vekua, t; Yuri Vorobiev, b; London Symphony Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra, cond. Valery Gergiev
Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 9
for orchestra | 75'
04.08.2014, Royal Albert Hall; BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; cond. Donald Runnicles
Luciano Berio: Sinfonia
for 8 voices and orchestra | 35'
05.08.2014, Royal Albert Hall; London Voices; European Union Youth Orchestra, cond. Semyon Bychkov
Harrison Birtwistle: Endless Parade
for trumpet, strings and vibraphone | 17'
09.08.2014, Cadogan Hall; Håkan Hardenberger, tpt; Lapland Chamber Orchestra, cond. John Storgårds
Leoš Janáček: Overture to the opera “From the House of the Dead“
for orchestra | 6'
24.08.2014, Royal Albert Hall; Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Jiří Bělohlávek
Gustav Mahler: Piano Quartet in A minor
for violin, viola, violoncello and piano | 10'
25.08.2014, Cadogan Hall; Louis Schwizgebel, pno; Katarzyna Budnik-Gałązka, vla; Marcin Zdunik, vc; members of the Royal String Quartet
Zoltán Kodály: Dances of Galánta
for orchestra | 13'
25.08.2014, Royal Albert Hall; Budapest Festival Orchestra, cond. Iván Fischer
Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 2
for soli, mixed choir and orchestra | 80'
29.08.2014, Royal Albert Hall; Kate Royal, s; Christianne Stotijn, ms; Swedish Radio Choir; Philharmonia Chorus; Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, cond. Daniel Harding
Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 1
for orchestra | 50'
04.09.2014, Royal Albert Hall; BBC Symphony Orchestra, cond. Marin Alsop
Harrison Birtwistle: Verses for Ensembles
for 3 instrumental ensembles | 28'
Harrison Birtwistle: Dinah and Nick's Love Song
for 3 melody instruments and harp | 5'
Harrison Birtwistle: Meridian
for mezzo-soprano, 2 female choirs and instruments | 27'
06.09.2014, Cadogan Hall; Christine Rice, ms; Exaudi; Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, cond. Oliver Knussen
Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 3
for alto, boys’ choir, female choir and orchestra | 90'
11.09.2014, Royal Albert Hall; Gerhild Romberger, ms; Leipzig Opera and Gewandhaus Choir; Leipzig Gewandhaus Childrens Choir; Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, cond. Riccardo Chailly
Friedrich Cerha: Paraphrase on the Opening of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9
for orchestra | 14'
12.09.2014, Royal Albert Hall; Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, cond. Riccardo Chailly
Aram Khachaturian: Säbeltanz [Sabre Dance]
for orchestra | 3'
13.09.2014, Royal Albert Hall; BBC Symphony Orchestra, cond. Sakari Oramo
It is based on Arthur Schnitzler’s play La Ronde, however it features a wide cast of characters – ranging from Gustav and Alma Mahler to Arnold Schönberg, Sigmund Freud, Alexander Zemlinsky, Gustav Klimt and Schnitzler himself. Gerrit Prießnitz will conduct the Volksoper Symphonieorchester, Alban Berg’s Lulu-Suite and 3 Orchestral Pieces will be among the works performed.
Find out more on the website of the Volksoper Wien.
Further performances take place on 2., 26. May and 5., 20., 26., 29. June 2014
Here’s the press release:
“After critically acclaimed concerts in the Philharmonie & Konzerthaus Berlin, as well as on tour, ensemble mini - the outstanding fusion of young musicians from Berlin's top orchestras - performs at the Radialsystem V Mahler’s 9th Symphony in the beautiful new transcription by world-wide leading Mahler arranger, Klaus Simon. Commissioned by the exciting young conductor, Joolz Gale, specifically for 17-person mini-orchestra, the arrangement breathes new life into the essence of the symphony. Huge, heavy and, at the same moment, extremely intimate and fragile, this work, more than any other, has enormous dimensions and yet it sinks into almost complete silence. With ensemble mini, a very unusual sound palate is created, presenting the intimate facets of Mahler’s oeuvre from a fascinating new perspective.”
Service started his guide on 23 April 2012 and closed it with a roundup on 20 May 2013, introducing one composer a week to his audience. As the comments show, Tom Service’s blog has struck a chord with listeners of contemporary music, and it is safe to say that each one of his articles is worth your time. Whether this is because of his witty style, his smart observations or the abundance of audio and video links he recommends – the articles always left me craving for one more video, one more recording.
Out of the 51 composers he picked for this year-long series, 13 are UE-composers. It goes without saying that this fills us with great pride. And here they are, in all their glory, from Sir Richard Rodney Bennett to Karlheinz Stockhausen:
Sir Richard Rodney
Sir Harrison Birtwistle
In March 2014, the Xiamen University – which, with more than 40.000 students, is one of China’s most important universities and of international renown – invited composer Nikolai Badinski to present his music and give lectures in the frame of the prestigious „Nanqiang” Lectures of Excellence. Furthermore, the composer was honoured with the badge of honour of the Xiamen University.
In the same month, the Shanghai Conservatory of Music invited the composer to present and lecture on his music. You can see him here with the composer professor Deqing Wen, Artistic Director of the New Music Weeks Shanghai, at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music (click the images to enlarge them).
Find out more about Nikolai Badinski.
The Alban Berg Foundation and Universal Edition are proud to present the recent publication of the critical complete edition of
Alban Berg: Lulu, Particell of Act 3
The official presentation will take place on 25 April at the Palais Mollard at the Austrian National Library and starts at 11 a.m. The Hugo Wolf Quartett will perform movements 1, 3 and 5 from Berg’s Lyric Suite.
The Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien will be celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach on 23 April at the Musikverein Vienna.
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s works for violin and harpsichord obbligato pervade his entire compositional oeuvre. The earliest works, like the Sonata in D minor still numbered BWV 1036, date back to the years of study with his father, yet show already a remarkable creative will of his own. The latest work, the fantasia ‘C. P. E. Bachs Empfindungen’ in F sharp minor of 1787 is characterised by the composer's highly expressive late style.
Wiener Urtext Edition has released a new two-volume edition of C. P. E. Bach’s complete works for harpsichord (piano) obbligato and violin, two of which will be performed at the Musikverein. Find out more about Bach’s works for violin and harpsichord here.
In part one, radio host Ben Eshmade introduces listeners to the Barbican’s Birtwistle at 80 celebration and speaks to Harrison Birtwistle’s peers and collaborators about the composer’s life and work, as well as the great man himself.
You can listen to the Podcast here and on the Barbican’s SoundCloud page:
The highly acclaimed pianist Taka Kigawa will honour composer and conductor Pierre Boulez with a solo piano recital of the composer’s works 12 Notations, Première Sonate, Troisième Sonate (including Sigle), Incises and une page d’éphéméride on 17 April at the Center for New Music in San Francisco, and, a week later, on 24 April at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.
From the Center for New Music’s programme:
“Pierre Boulez’s piano pieces have been Taka Kigawa’s specialty program. He has performed those pieces in public numerous times worldwide, and has received lots of acclaim from both critics and audiences alike. The New York Times hailed him, as ‘It was music of Mr. Boulez that spurred him to greater intensity and spontaneity. Mr. Kigawa’s feat deserves the highest praise, especially since it was combined with such alacrity and sensitivity to the musical material’ and ‘Mr. Kigawa recast the (Boulez’s) sonata as an essay in how to apply suppleness to virtuosity, and the result was an energetic but also characterful account.’ And Pierre Boulez himself highly praised Kigawa’s playing his works as ‘I was very much impressed by the brilliant way he performed them. He was precise, and at the same time inventive.’ […] Also this year Kigawa will be touring with the Pierre Boulez Complete Solo Piano Music program in Buenos Aires, Argentina in late April, in New York City in August, and in Japan in November.”
Here is a collection of reviews of Luke Bedford’s Through His Teeth. Read the full reviews by clicking on the corresponding links. Through His Teeth will be performed one last time tonight, 11 April, at the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House.
Can this be the best British opera in years? Luke Bedford’s Through His Teeth at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre is exceptional. Drop everything and go.
(Anne Ozorio, Opera Today, 09.04.2014)
Short, pithy and smart, Through His Teeth managed that elusive feat of being at once gripping and amusing. […] Bedford’s score is surely his most accomplished so far, often turning down the aural volume as the drama grows noisier – to bracing effect.
(Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 06.04.2014)
Bedford sets Harrower’s directly phrased text fluently, infusing his vocal lines with a strong sense of character and situation. The musical-dramatic pacing is swift and almost cinematic – an aspect reinforced by the use of screens with multiple CCTV images placed at the back of the stage, which show us the physical ambience of each scene.
(George Hall, The Guardian, 04.04.2014)
It's a shame that Through His Teeth has only been scheduled for four performances as it deserves a far wider audience. An unqualified success, Through His Teeth looks set to become a modern classic, and is certainly the most ambitious and successful of recent new operas that have been seen on the London stage.
(Keith McDonnell, WhatsOnStage, 10.04.2014)
As music, it manages to be atmospheric and seductive while still pushing the edges of sound art, becoming increasingly disharmonious as the situation becomes more extreme. Composed by Luke Bedford, it will surely be produced by other opera companies in the future as it contributes both to what opera is and to the enduring moral tangle of Faust.
(Eleanor MacFarlane, The Upcoming, 04.04.2014)
Bedford’s score is appropriately tense, explosive, and fragmentary, uncertain in movement and devoid of any conventional lyricism. Charm is not on its aesthetic agenda: exploiting quarter-tones and the sonorities of accordion and percussion, it seems charged with the restless urban angst that fuels Harrower’s libretto.
(Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 04.04.2014)
There might seem to be a mismatch between Harrower’s words (mundane, lots of swearing) and Bedford’s score (subtle, spare, elusive). But the music draws otherworldly sounds out of its small band of harp, accordion, percussion and others, and adds the extra layer of mystery that sets the imagination spinning.
(Richard Fairman, Financial Times)
The vibrant accompaniment of contemporary chamber orchestra CHROMA is a key element of the success in this production, fulfilling the intensity and the surprising lightnesses of the score and pushing the cast on to greater emotional heights.
(Laura Peatman, A Younger Theatre, 05.04.2014)
If there’s one thing you need to see this week, this is it.
This is not the first opera from Luke Bedford […] But it is easily his most impressive - and I hope the comparative ease of staging the score will lead to further productions in future, perhaps from students.