Tom Service of The Guardian discusses which operas might be a good fit for first-timers. We are happy to see that he considers Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen and The Makropulos Case and Harrison Birtwistle’s Gawain and Yan Tan Tethera as viable alternatives for those who might think that “Berg is just too violently excessive and excessively violent”.
Read Service’s full article on The Guardian.
UE has recently released a children’s operas catalogue that presents eight operas specially attuned to inquisitive youthful ears. You can leaf through it here:
The Birmingham Contemporary Music Group has released the concert programme for their birthday concert for Harrison Birtwistle. The concert takes place on Saturday, 10 May at the CBSO Centre.
Find the full programme here.
Hans Gál is the BBC Radio 3’s composer of the week. In five 60-minute episodes, Donald Macleod and conductor/cellist Kenneth Woods explore the life and work of the composer. In the first three episodes, they focused on the topics Teacher, Scholar, Composer, The Early Years and The 1930s. The final two episodes, Exile in Britain and Post-War Edinburgh, will be first broadcast on 8 and 9 May, respectively.
Find out more, listen to previous episodes and view an episode overview on BBC Radio 3.
Gramophone’s Jeremy Nicholas has recently reviewed CPO’s release of Franz Liszt Organ Arrangements, which includes arrangements of Fantasia and Fugue on Ad nos, ad salutarem undam, Orpheus, Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, and Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H.
Franz Liszt used the chorale Ad nos, ad salutarem undam,originally from Giacomo Meyerbeer’s opera Le Prophète, as the basis for a Fantasia and Fugue. The “Prophet Fugue”, as he called it, is one of the most impressive works of a secular character in organ literature. Marcel Dupré, one of the great 20th century masters of the organ, arranged it highly effectively for orchestra; it was considered lost until it was rediscovered and performed again in 2007.
Read the full review on Gramophone.
Transitus was commissioned by La Scala in Milan, who wished for it to allude to the works of Richard Strauss. When asked if he had been influenced by Strauss’ virtuosity as an orchestrator, Rihm replied: “Virtuosity is not a value in itself: any star pupil can be a virtuoso. What is really important is what energy is moved – and how much energy is moved! There is so much virtuoso music that doesn’t go anywhere. No movement, just everything shaking, flailing and glistening. But music is all about conveying energy. The quality of a piece of music is determined by its energetic charge and flows. In his finest moments, Strauss creates an incomparable maelstrom of relentless flow.”
View the full study score of Transitus:
Wolfgang Rihm: Transitus
for orchestra | 15'
world prem. 05.05.2014, Teatro alla Scala, Milan; prem. 07.05.2014, Palazzo di Congressi, Lugano; Filarmonica della Scala, cond. Riccardo Chailly
The composer on Zhi-Jong Wang’s excellent performance:
With the successful and convincing realisation of the 42 years delayed world première of my lost Violin Concerto No. 2 – performed by the Shanghai violinist Zhi-Jong Wang and the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra under Renchang Fu – the young and extremely gifted soloist Zhi-Jong Wang has categorically confirmed a prediction that I made one year ago – that she is a star of tomorrow. Only that she already plays like a star.
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