Read the full review on the New York Times.
Find out more about Jenůfa.
Leoš Janáček: Jenůfa
Opera in 3 acts from Moravian peasant life | 120'
3 3 3 3 - 4 2 3 1 - timp, perc(2), bells, hp, str - stage music: hn(2), toy tpt, xyl, bells, str(1 1 1 1 1)
31.01.2014; 02, 04, 05, and 07.02.2014, La Monnaie, Bruxelles; Sally Matthews/Andrea Danková, Charles Workman, Nicky Spence, Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet, Carole Wilson, Ivan Ludlow, Alexander Vassiliev, Mireille Capelle, Hendrickje Van Kerckhove, Beata Morawska, Chloé Briot, Nathalie Van de Voorde, Marta Beretta; Choeur de la Monnaie, Orchestre Symphonique de la Monnaie, cond. Ludovic Morlot
In February and August of 2013, theatre director Bijan Sheibani, playwright David Harrower and composer Luke Bedford had two workshops at the ROH, in which they were working on the libretto with actors.
Luke Bedford on the workshops:
It might seem strange to have an opera workshop where there are no singers or musicians present, but from the beginning of this project I was clear that getting the text right was crucial before I started writing any notes. Therefore the workshops we had on the piece involved a few days working with actors and trying out various ways of telling the story.
The first idea was to set it all in one flat, where R had two women installed/imprisoned. David had written a few scenes exploring this idea, hints of which you can see in the final version of the text. And while this scenario certainly had intensity, it soon became clear that clamping the story into just one location was too restrictive. Especially when R had forbidden the women to speak to each other. This kind of idea has been touched upon in opera before, but we felt it wasn’t right for the piece that we wanted to make. Also, seeing the actors on the stage told us the mood was simply too dark: too monochrome. So David and I went away and thought about how to take the elements we liked from the workshop but find a better structure for them. After some work, we ended up the framework of the final piece: to focus on just one woman’s story and have a series of snapshots of A and R’s (and her sister’s) relationship, intercut with A being interviewed after the events.
The second workshop was on something close to the final draft of the text. Hearing how the actors read the lines was really useful to me – partly as they confirmed many of my own ideas where the key dramatic moments are, as well as the pacing of the work. And sometimes they would read a line or two very differently to how I’d imagined it – and this was also useful, even if I rejected ‘their’ way in the end. In fact, this has haphazardly evolved into a technique that I now use when working with text. I try and imagine the opposite of how I’ve set some lines, to see whether it works better than my first draft. Often it doesn’t, but just now and then it throws up something wonderfully unexpected – and it ends up in the final piece. One example of this is in scene 12, when R appears at A’s flat and pressures her to leave with him. My first idea was to have very dramatic, crashy, wild music. But then I stepped back and tried to imagine the scene with almost nothing happening and I knew straight away that this was stronger. In the ensemble, there are just six pitched, extremely high notes from the violin, and underneath the whole scene is the distant, otherworldly sound of a thunder tube.
Find out more about Through His Teeth.
Tonight, 5.05pm, on WDR: a special on “Musik gegen alle Fronten”, the latest production of the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln. Listen live.
A recording of the concert will be broadcast by Ö1 on 9 February at 11:03am. Listen live.
View the full study score of Swan Song.
Arvo Pärt: Swan Song
Wiener Philharmoniker, cond. Marc Minkowski
Mozart Week Salzburg; recording of the world première on 29 January, Großes Festspielhaus Salzburg
Ö1 | Listen live
Sunday, 09.02.2014, 11:03
The piece will be performed today at the Brucknerhaus in Linz and on 31 January at the Musikverein, Vienna.
Arvo Pärt: Symphony No. 4 ‘Los Angeles’
for string orchestra, harp, timpani and percussion | 34'
timp, perc(2–4), hp, str
27.01.2014, Brucknerhaus, Linz
31.01.2014, Musikverein, Vienna
Bruckner Orchestra Linz, cond. Dennis Russell Davies
Victor Ibarra’s piano piece Cuatro observaciones sobre lo imaginario, which won the Mauricio Kagel Composition Competition (K2013) in 2013, will be performed on 3 February at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, on 14 March at the Fundación Eutherpe in León, on 4 April at the Real Academia de España in Rome and on 11 April at the Conservatorio Profesional de Música Cristóbal de Morales in Sevilla.
Find out more about the Mexican composer on his website.
Cuatro observaciones sobre lo imaginario and three other works that participated in the competition were published in Universal Edition’s UE36026.
Congratulations to Arvo Pärt and Tõnu Kaljuste: Adam's Lament (released under the ECM New Series) has won the Grammy for Best Choral Performance. The performers on the recording are the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Vox Clamantis, Sinfonietta Riga, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, soloists Tui Hirv and Rainer Vilu.
SWR2 broadcasts the concert on 8 February at 8pm, three hours after the performance. Listen live.
View the full study score.
Jay Schwartz: Delta – Music for Orchestra IV
for orchestra | 25'
4 4 4 4 - 6 4 4 1 - Kontrabass (5-stringed), perc(3), vln.I, vln.II, vla, vc
world prem. 08.02.2014, Theaterhaus, Stuttgart; RSO Stuttgart, cond. Johannes Kalitzke
Universal Edition mourns the death of Claudio Abbado, a conductor who made a great contribution to the acceptance of the Second Viennese School, most significantly in Vienna itself. As a founder of Vienna’s Wien Modern festival in 1988, he created an independent forum for the music of the 20th century.
Beyond his focus on the music of Schönberg, Berg and Webern – whose music was central to the first festival – and Mahler (Vienna’s influence on his own understanding of Mahler is reflected in our interview, see below), Abbado also showed great interest in his own contemporaries. The Lucerne Concert Hall was inaugurated in 1998 with a concert by Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra with a performance of Wolfgang Rihm’s IN-SCHRIFT.
Abbado’s championship of modern music will remain an example to us.
The concert was performed by the London Sinfonietta under Emilio Pomàrico on 6 December 2013 at the Southbank Centre’s The Rest is Noise Festival.
Furthermore, Tom Service will present an interview with the composer.
The show will be online until 26 January, listen on BBC Radio 3.
In the 13th installment of our blog about Luke Bedford's new opera, Through His Teeth, he tells us about the latest scene.
“The scene I’m currently working on, scene 13, is kind of a bit like a showdown, although I don’t really want to use that word. But it is the sort of point where the various plots come together.
The scene is about five or six minutes long. It actually has a bass drum, which starts very slowly, but is almost imperceptibly getting faster over the course of about five minutes.
So at the beginning it’s only playing every couple of seconds, it’s just this very distant sort of thud. And as the scene builds up, you might become gradually aware of this kind of undercurrent, there’s something pulling you, as you move towards the key moment at the end of the scene. And I like this idea. A lot of the scene is very quiet, there are long pauses between what is said.
The text is actually quite short, it’s barely a side of A4. And this is something that is quite interesting about the pacing of things: sometimes you need gaps there, so that the music can spell out the tension in a scene.”
Luke Bedford talks about scenes one and two of his new opera Through His Teeth.