New works

Get an overview of our latest publishing activities in the fields of orchestra, opera, vocal and chamber music.

Orchestra

Bartók, Béla – Petite Suite (2016)

10’

Bartók’s Petite Suite is a reduction for piano of six of Bartók’s 44 Duos for Two Violins, arranged by the composer in 1936. American composer Jay Schwartz has now arranged the Suite in a version for two violins and string orchestra, as well as a version for string orchestra alone, returning to Bartók’s original Duos for Two Violins and expounding upon their inherent idiomatic stringed instrument characteristics. Schwartz’s orchestrations offer a small scale form reminiscent of a Concerto Grosso, as found in Bartók’s Divertimento, retaining Bartók’s style while expanding the canons and counterpoint found in Bartók’s original duos.

Schwartz remains true to Bartók’s aesthetic and Bartók’s characteristic scoring, including allusions to his “Night Music” and incorporating various elements of Bartók’s own orchestral renditions of folk music, while at the same time allowing himself the freedom of development and invention of material supporting Bartók’s ideas.

In addition to the six pieces from Bartók’s Suite, Schwartz has chosen two complementary pieces from Bartók’s violin duos to balance the arrangement as an orchestral form and offer a greater diversify of stylistic possibilities.

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Bartók, Béla – Petite Suite (2016)

for string orchestra | 10’

WP 02.09.2018: KKL, Luzern (CH)

Bartók’s Petite Suite is a reduction for piano of six of Bartók’s 44 Duos for Two Violins, arranged by the composer in 1936. American composer Jay Schwartz has now arranged the Suite in a version for two violins and string orchestra, as well as a version for string orchestra alone, returning to Bartók’s original Duos for Two Violins and expounding upon their inherent idiomatic stringed instrument characteristics. Schwartz’s orchestrations offer a small scale form reminiscent of a Concerto Grosso, as found in Bartók’s Divertimento, retaining Bartók’s style while expanding the canons and counterpoint found in Bartók’s original duos.

Schwartz remains true to Bartók’s aesthetic and Bartók’s characteristic scoring, including allusions to his “Night Music” and incorporating various elements of Bartók’s own orchestral renditions of folk music, while at the same time allowing himself the freedom of development and invention of material supporting Bartók’s ideas.

In addition to the six pieces from Bartók’s Suite, Schwartz has chosen two complementary pieces from Bartók’s violin duos to balance the arrangement as an orchestral form and offer a greater diversify of stylistic possibilities.

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Berg, Alban – Sonata (1908/1909)

for orchestra | 13’

Borisova-Ollas, Victoria – Symphony No. 2 (2017)

‘Labyrinths of Time’ for orchestra | 30’

WP 20.09.2017: Göteborgs Konserthus, Göteborg (SE)

How does the mechanism which controls our ability to remember the past work?

My own solution to this mystery is a combination of three keywords: time, pulse, and memory.

In fact, we cannot remember events as if they were lined up as a chain of beautiful pearls from a perfectly neat necklace. Instead, we remember short sections of conversations, colors, still and moving images. We remember voices, melodies, and in more complicated contexts also texts, numbers, music scores, and drawings. Of course, all of that varies from one person to another depending very much on what sort of personalities we have, our occupations and our age range.

One can also experience the memory process as a walk in a labyrinth. I imagine that labyrinth as a giant interior of a church tower's clockwork. We take one step to the right, one step to the left while the huge machinery ticks, its wheels rattling and scratching. The clock hits a quarter of an hour, two quarters, three quarters … then the final chord arrives!

Time always has a pulse, and therefore it is closely related to the music. The heart beats faster or slower while the short episodes of the silent movie keep rolling back and forth. We remember, we breathe, we exist.

Symphony No. 2 “Labyrinths of Time” was written between 2015 and 2016. It was commissioned by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Victoria Borisova-Ollas

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Bruch, Max – Romanze (1911)

for viola and string orchestra arranged by Masao Yokoyama for viola and string orchestra | 9’

Cerha, Friedrich – 3 Sätze (2012)

for orchestra | 13’

WP 09.04.2016: Musikverein, Großer Saal, Wien (AT)

With regard to my work, reference has often beenmade to its stylistic variety, its differing material and treatment of the latter, whereby I occasionally detected a touch of discrimination in the sense of arbitrariness in that material. In fact works of very different character came into being in temporal-contiguous proximity, the responsibility lying in the fact that, in several stages of my development, I have proceeded from one point in pursuing various evolutionary strands which grew apart as they developed. Thus a direct comparison of simultaneously created [works] can lead to a somewhat hapless detection of “variety.”

Given that interest exists in pursuing the consistency of a development (which is not necessary for the recipient of a single work), a piece must be placed in a relation to earlier works of the corresponding strand of development in order to gain insight into the logic of a line of evolutionary development. (Incidentally, perception and deliberate parallel pursuit of varying notions and ways of thinking of music were already salient features of my work in the 1940s; I was emphatically emboldened in this by my friend Paul Kont, who was involved with similar concepts).

The sketches for the Drei Sätze für Orchester were already completed in 2011 while I was working on the Drei Orchesterstücke [“Three Orchestra Pieces”]; I finished the full score in March and April 2012.

The eruptive, dramatic element, the subversive protesting of the Intermezzo from the Drei Orchesterstücke are eschewed here, as is the statuary aspect of “Tombeau”.

The vitality of the first piece depends on contiguity, the interplay of rhythmised layers.

The cor anglais and the flute, deployed in soloistic contemplation, dominate the second movement; initially, the orchestra has mere interjections and short interludes, gaining its own character only in the final section and ending with pianissimo string chords.

The third piece is lively concertante, with one rather sombre episode in the middle. It requires a plenitude of virtuosity form the orchestra.

Friedrich Cerha

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Cerha, Friedrich – 3 Situationen (2015-2016)

for string orchestra | 15’30”

Cerha, Friedrich – Eine blassblaue Vision (2013-2014)

for large orchestra | 20’

WP 11.08.2016: Felsenreitschule, Salzburg (AT)

Alborada del grazioso and La Valse frame my piece in this concert; greater contrast, sharper discrepancy are scarcely conceivable.

Pale Blue Vision: actually, I do not like such titles and I have avoided them for many decades, because they often influence one’s expectations with a “programme.” But in this case, there was a very specific reason for choosing the title.

Music comes to me very often in the morning when I am in that state between sleep and wakefulness. On one of those mornings, the music was coupled with a visual experience: a gestalt with burred contours, as if swathed in mist, which initially pulsed lightly outward from within – a movement which later took on daunting proportions for a while before ebbing away again. Still in my dream, I couched it in terms of the colour pale blue, perhaps influenced by the fact that I had reread Werfel’s A Woman’s Pale Blue Handwriting a few weeks earlier. Bathed in gentle light, the gestalt initially stood before a background as black as night. As I increasingly neared awakening, the gestalt slowly dissolved in fine vapours, leaving an empty mandorla behind. I tried twice to capture the experience by painting it – but the music was there at once, spontaneously.

It was not until after I had completed the score that I discovered the neologism Knabenmorgen Blüthenträume [“A boy’s morning dreams of blossoms”] in an old edition of Goethe’s Prometheus. I was fascinated; the scent of that neologism, the atmosphere it diffused, were the very same as those of my dream and – I hope – my music. Since then, I have learned that the word has long since struck other people, too; in newer editions – including Schubert – only the Blütenträume remain.

Friedrich Cerha

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Halffter, Cristóbal – Alucinaciones (2015)

for trio basso and orchestra

WP 27.09.2017: Basler Münster, Basel (CH)

Halffter, Cristóbal – Concerto (2014)

for viola and orchestra | 25’

WP 07.02.2016: Kieler Schloss, Kiel (DE)

Composed in 2014, the Concerto for Viola and Orchestra has two movements and was inspired by a viola solo from Halffter’s opera Schachnovelle (Chess Game), in which the instrument symbolises the loneliness of the imprisoned Dr Berger. Halffter calls the viola a “noble instrument” and maintains that its sound has long fascinated him. Accordingly, Halffter’s concerto sees the viola cover the full range of its expressive power: from virtuoso to very intimate.

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Halffter, Cristóbal – Contrastes (2016/2017)

for orchestra | 15’

WP 19.10.2017: Sala Sinfónica, Valladolid (ES)

Janáček, Leoš – Sinfonietta (1926)

for orchestra | 25’

WP 22.02.2017: Rudolfinum, Prag (CZ)

Pärt, Arvo – Greater Antiphons (1988/2015)

for string orchestra | 15’

WP 28.05.2016: Disney Hall, Los Angeles (US)

Pärt’s first collaboration with the Los Angeles Philharmonic resulted from the premiere performance of his Fourth Symphony, subtitled “Los Angeles,” in 2009. Written for string orchestra, harp, timpani and percussion, the symphony is often played around the world and is available from ECM on CD.

When the orchestra and its new chief conductor Gustavo Dudamel again invited Pärt to compose a piece, he recalled the orchestra’s particular string sound, its wealth of colour and its enormous dynamic breadth and the idea spontaneously came to arrange a purely a capella work from 1988, the Seven Magnificat Antiphons (also known in English as Greater Antiphons), for string orchestra. The work’s seven sections correspond to the seven verses, each of which begins with an invocation.

Pärt rearranged the vocal score and created a purely instrumental version; thus the work appears sonically in a completely new light, while its context rises to another artistic level.

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Rihm, Wolfgang – De profundis (2015)

for choir and orchestra | 15’

WP 25.04.2016: Sala Sinfónica, Madrid (ES)

The first two words of Psalm 130 (“Out of the depths I cry unto thee, Lord”) are the title of Rihm’s new work for chorus and orchestra. As in Deus passus, Rihm talks again here about finalities with a deceptively simplified musical language; waiving technical difficulties does not at all preclude profound utterance – as so often, the apparent simplicity is actually the difficulty.

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Rihm, Wolfgang – Reminiszenz (2016)

for tenor and large orchestra | 15’

WP 11.01.2017: Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg (DE)

Rihm, Wolfgang – Requiem-Strophen (2015-2016)

for soli, mixed choir and orchestra | 80’

WP 30.03.2017: Herkulessaal, München (DE)

Anna Prohaska on Requiem-Strophen:

Ms. Prohaska, when you sing music by Wolfgang Rihm, your voice occasionally moves in stratospheric regions – one could say, in the “air of other planets.” Do you feel it as a type of fresh-air influx when you get music by Rihm to study?

Prohaska: Fresh air? – definitely, in the sense that it has almost always been completely new pieces to date that I've sung and that Rihm actually wrote some of them for me. It is also an unbelievably great experience to open the score for the first time; it’s of course very exciting and delightful. But I would say, musically speaking, that Rihm’s music has always been strongly grounded in tradition; Rihm has his own sonic language, his own brilliance in his creativity, but he really does stand with both feet firmly planted in musical tradition. And I find that exciting about him; you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel when you're writing a new piece.

How does Rihm’s music lie with your voice? Is it possible to generalise?

Prohaska: Rihm always writes for individuals, for the person he has composed it for, the person who sings the premiere performance. He knows the extreme regions of the voice in question, but he also knows where that voice feels most comfortable. For instance, I’m often called a coloratura soprano, even though I’m actually not. I am a lyric soprano with coloratura. I’ve never sung Zerbinetta, I've never sung the Queen of the Night; I have the notes, but I’m just not at home up there – and Rihm knows that. That’s why these Requiem-Strophen with the two sopranos – I sing the second soprano – are so ingenious; some of my part lies very low. It goes from G below the staff to the D above it, yet there is always a wonderful balance; the voice always has moments when it can repose in the lower regions – it is not always stuck in the eternal ice up there.

What was it like when you saw the score for the first time?

Prohaska: Well, Mr. Schaufler, it was quite funny; we met in Berlin at the performance of the great dance-poem Tutuguri, given in a concert version by the Bavarian Radio Symphony at the Berlin Musikfest. It was a very strange moment; I had this big score on my lap as I was listening to another piece by Rihm, a piece from a very different time – a courageous, bombastic early work with a huge deployment of percussion at the end. And I was sitting there with the score and I couldn’t help myself; naturally I had to page through it and sort of have a look: how was it written? Of course that is distracting and it wasn’t as if one could get an idea of it at once in the mind’s eye, but I did get a bit of an overview of the amount.

In your view, what is Rihm’s motivation for scaling such heights? He wrote another piece for you, Mnemosyne, some of which lies very high. I always feel a moment of utopia when the soprano catapults herself into the very highest ranges. How is that for you as the performer?

Prohaska: First of all, I must say that a singer does not approach it so philosophically; at first, it is all technical and physical, which is truly a kind of tightrope walking. You sometimes feel like a vaulting horse – that is, it is a matter of managing to clear this and that hurdle while sounding especially elegant and musical and without it sounding like hard work – and that is not too difficult with Rihm’s music because he writes such wonderful cantilenas. Sometimes the pitches are extremely far apart – indeed, occasionally over two octaves – but without ever losing the thread. Often, the other instruments lead and accompany me. Rihm composes a musical Ariadne thread. He wrote Samothrake for me and the Gewandhaus Orchestra, and I was again able to experience – en gros, as it were – how it is to be surrounded by Rihm’s masses of sound; they are so unobtrusively composed that they do not cover the singer – I felt supported and accompanied. With Rihm, the singing is always ingrained in the musical texture; it is never mere fodder for virtuosi.

That is also obvious in his opera Dionysos; again and again, he gives a note to the sopranos from the orchestra, maintaining the integrity and never leaving the soloists isolated.

Prohaska: Yes, and that is naturally an incredible help to intonation as well. Mojca Erdmann, who sings first soprano, has perfect pitch. I admire that like mad, of course, because it makes learning a score a lot easier. I have relative pitch, so I am more reliant on the orchestra.

The Rihm violin concerto most frequently played is called Gesungene Zeit [“Sung Time”], not gratuitously, one could say. His music often has a vocal core. Do you sense that, as a performer of his music?

Prohaska: Definitely. I love his instrumental music, too, but of course as a singer I relate more strongly to the vocal music. I was still a child when I got to know his baritone songs through our mutual friend Richard Salter; Rihm wrote several things for him and he premiered some of them. That closeness to the words, that vocal expressiveness – that is the epicentre of his work, it seems to me.

When Beethoven wrote his Missa Solemnis, he was accused of writing against the voice – also in the sense that the failure had some allure. There are pieces by Rihm called Über die Linie [“Over the Line”]; are there times when he goes beyond the limits of what singing can do, as a deliberate stylistic element?

Prohaska: I can well imagine that he tries to do that. But with a singer like Mojca Erdmann, for instance, it is not even noticeable that there are such limits, because she just soars over it all, like with Proserpina or the large part in Dionysos. I admire what she does madly. Besides, Rihm already knew what she could do and where her strengths lay, and that he could fully exploit them.

I don’t think that Rihm is a composer who deliberately writes against the voice, so that it is detrimental, so it becomes scratchy, so that you have to force yourself – which can entail long-term damage to these poor little muscles. There are other composers who couldn’t care less about that, who see only their genius hovering before them – and the singers and instrumentalists are the poor little performers. With Rihm, I feel that it all goes hand in hand: interpretation, performer and piece.

What else is there to say about the music before the first rehearsals of the Requiem-Strophen?

Prohaska: I fell in love with the wonderful Lacrimosa parts at once, one of them in Latin and the other in German. There are simply those heartrending intervals and I am simply looking forward to finding Klangfarben with Mojca Erdmann – that perhaps we will try to sound the same, or wan, or with vibrato, depending – to seek and try a mirror image and, then again, a completely different line. One can only find these things out during the rehearsal stage and really grasp what it will then become.

That almost sounds a bit like Mozart's C-minor Mass.

Prohaska: Yes, a little bit, I can imagine – but it’s also a bit more extreme and maybe a little more romantic. Hanno Müller-Brachmann, the baritone, has a sonnet that he sings completely alone.

I think that is a very beautiful idea: such a symmetry, with the male voice in the middle, surrounded by the female voices, like a triptych.

br musica-viva, März-April 2017

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Schwartz, Jay – Quaerendo invenietis – Music for Orchestra V (2016)

for string orchestra | 16’

WP 07.05.2016: Philharmonie, Köln (DE)

Quaerendo invenietis – Music for Orchestra V, for string orchestra, transforms the royal musical motive from Bach’s Musical Offering and quotes Bach’s inscription for the canons: quaerendo invenietis “…seek and ye shall find…”.

Slowed down by a hundred times, Schwartz lets the motive unfold, gliding all the while, until massive clusters materialize.

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Quaerendo invenietis – Music for Orchestra V
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Sotelo, Mauricio – Red Inner Light Sculpture (2013)

for violin, bailaora (ad lib.), flamenco percussion (ad lib.) and string orchestra | 20’

WP 10.06.2016: Ordway Concert Hall, St. Paul (US)

These are the most thrilling moments in my profession, when I have the honor to premiere a new piece. One has to be the medium, midwife and guardian angel at same time.

Mauricio Sotelo is a marvelous Spanish composer based in Berlin, who loves and understands his routes. It is unique and extremely exiting what he creates out of flamenco music and modern sounds. 

He uses some of the most powerful forms of Andalusian Flamenco, such as “Soleá, Soleá por Bulería or Tangos flamencos.”

There are two cadenzas, and a fascinating moment of ecstasy of contemplating a celestial cartography, shaping a clear architectural Form of the piece.

In these very violin concerto he uses additionally to the solo violin and strings – a real flamenco-dancer and a percussionist.

The dancer represents literally the rhythm, he is possessed with it and the characters he dances are utterly precisely shaped in his movements and sound of his feet.

I never had such an animal, corporeal experience of rhythm. I felt it in all my bones, fingers and bow. 

The other appeal is also to find the right sound and “micro-qualities” in the intonation for the andalusian “cant-hondo” (deep-singing in the throat) which could be experienced as a normal classical-music listener as quite shocking or “ugly” but is absolutely necessary for the right expression of this style.

After having won the “Praetorius”, a prize for innovation, some years ago in Germany, I decided to ask Mauricio to compose this violin concerto and am very honored and happy to give the premier with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra on 10 June 2016.

Patricia Kopatchinskaja

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Weill, Kurt – Song-Suite for Violin and Orchestra [EAMC]

for violine and chamber orchestra | 19’
chamber version

WP 21.01.2017: Alex Theatre, Glendale (US)

Chamber orchestra / ensemble / chambermusic

Bartók, Béla – The Miraculous Mandarin

for ensemble (or chamber orchestra) | 21’

WP 16.10.2017: Musikverein, Wien (AT)

Bedford, Luke – Orbita

for string quartet | 15’

WP 08.06.2017: Bridgnorth (GB)

Bedford, Luke – Three Caves (2015)

for trumpet and piano | 10’

WP 22.01.2016: St Anne's College, Oxford (GB)

All three pieces are named after chambers in the Three Counties Cave System. Each one explores a different musical space:

I – Echo Aven – Opening with the piano in its lowest register, the trumpet plays echo-like patterns, gradually slowing each time. 

II – Short Long Drop – The piano is now in its highest register, introducing a faster, falling figure, which is gradually taken up by the trumpet. This builds to the piece's loudest section, which vanishes almost as soon as it has arrived.

III – Far Waters – In the longest of the pieces, an extended piano solo covering the whole range of the instrument, leads to the trumpet’s entry. At the end, high, dripping chords in the piano combine with the trumpet’s long, expressive notes.

The trumpet is tuned a quarter-tone lower than the piano. The piece explores the expressive possibilities of the search for consonance, despite the unbreachable differences in their tuning.

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Bedford, Luke – Unconformities (2015)

for saxophone quartet | 12’

WP 04.08.2015: Kendal Town Hall, Kendal (GB)

“We felt ourselves necessarily carried back to the time when the schistus on which we stood was yet at the bottom of the sea… Revolutions still more remote appeared in the distance of this extraordinary perspective. The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far into the abyss of time; and while we listened with earnestness and admiration to the philosopher who was now unfolding to us the order and series of these wonderful events, we became sensible how much farther reason may sometimes go than imagination can venture to follow.” (John Playfair; description of James Hutton’s trip to Siccar Point, Scotland, 1788)

Unconformity is a geological term for a discontinuity resulting in the juxtaposition of vastly different ages of rock.

In this piece I wanted to achieve a similar effect: musics of seemingly different ages which are smashed together; a volatile structure; not a smooth flow of time, but battered, broken history.

I was keen to take advantage of the saxophone’s agility and large dynamic range. To some extent, the broken-up structure of the piece grew out of this desire.

Two of the saxophones are tuned a quarter-tone down, adding an inbuilt tension into the ensemble. This opens up a wide range of expression; from harsh and angular to calm, strange beauty.

Luke Bedford

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Berg, Alban – 5 Orchester-Lieder (1912)

nach Ansichtskartentexten von Peter Altenberg for soprano / mezzosoprano and 13 players | 10’

Berg’s superb musical interpretation of Peter Altenberg’s texts transcends the ostensible discrepancy between the brevity of the texts and the sweeping momentum of the music. This is Alban Berg’s first composition for orchestra. Eberhard Kloke, who received international acclaim for his arrangements of Lulu and Wozzeck, has also scaled down this orchestral song cycle so that it can be performed by either a medium-sized orchestra or an ensemble of 13 players.

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Bizet, Georges – Carmen Suite No. 1 (1875)

arrangement by Gábor Kerényi for chamber orchestra | 13’

WP 21.05.2017: Musiktheater, Linz (AT)

Bizet, Georges – Carmen Suite No. 2 (1875)

arrangement by Gábor Kerényi for chamber orchestra | 23’

Cardini, Simone – Threshold (2015)

for ensemble | 10’

The implicit ambivalence of the word threshold allows us to imagine the suggestion of a new beginning, to intend or circumscribe an entrance, to determine a boundary, or to condition a limit; it obligates each of us to bear the risk of interpreting our position with respect to it through a choice: deciding whether to belong to the one side or to the other.

Only a further choice will allow us, possibly, to overstep or go beyond that door.

The compositional attempt absolves gestures and expressions from their randomness: the initial network of echopraxia and echolalia reveals itself through the mimetical realisation of those precise gestures and expressions, in a relation of reciprocal and constant differentiation among themselves.

The medium of their emancipation is precisely that sclerotic freedom expressed and revealed by the action.

The concealed tale of living on the edge of (psychic/social) madness makes unavoidable a conscious management of one's own Lebenswelt and of that sort of transition that always more frequently we have to face between ourselves and the imposed necessity to act.

Simone Cardini

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Cerha, Friedrich – 6 Postludien (2014)

for organ | 25’

WP 22.02.2016: Konzerthaus, Wien (AT)

The Preludes for organ were written in 2011, closely followed by the Inventions in 2012. I have continued to pursue the tendency of these works, doubtless using the experiences I acquired when the organist Wolfgang Kogert was recording them.

The 6 Postludien – the title refers to the internal trias of the three organ works – were written in late autumn 2013. In relation to the preludes, they are less trenchantly-aphoristically playful, of greater capacity, more “serious” if you like in their aspiration and richer in formal concentration.

Conceived as the conclusion of my group of works for organ, they have nevertheless become the pivotal point for further confrontations with their material in subsequent pieces for other instruments.

The Postludien are dedicated to my friend Hans Haselböck, who encouraged me again and again to write for the organ, on the occasion of his 85th birthday.

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Cerha, Friedrich – Kurzzeit (2016-2017)

for ensemble | 13’

Cerha, Friedrich – Trio (2015-2016)

for clarinet, trombone and violoncello | 20’

Debussy, Claude – Golliwogg’s Cake Walk (1906-1908)

for ensemble or chamber orchestra | 3’

In this piece, based on the lively African American dance of Cake Walk, the playful character is mainly preserved thanks to the clarinet theme, as the clarinet is considered the liveliest instrument of the orchestra, used by many other authors to emphasize lively, playful or joking passages. In this work, the theme is also entrusted to other winds except for the central episode, a quotation of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, where the strings, with which the melody is entrusted with an intense and expressive character, stand out. The arrangement is brilliant and of high timbral variety thanks to the use of the percussive pizzicato of the strings which is the background of the dancing theme.

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Debussy, Claude – Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune (1890-1894)

for ensemble or chamber orchestra | 11’

This symphonic poem is inspired by Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem L’après-midi d’un faune, of which an historical version by Arnold Schönberg already exists. The substantial difference between these two arrangements is a single instrument of the ensemble: Schönberg's version includes the harmonium in his own instrumentation, while in this version the harmonium is replaced by the French horn. The presence of the French horn gives to this work greater brilliance and fullness of the sound and the orchestral mix. This arrangement is not derived from Schönberg’s version, but from the original orchestrated by Debussy.

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Elgar, Edward – Enigma Variations (1898/1899)

for ensemble or chamber orchestra | 32’

WP 22.06.2016: The Church of St. Stephen, Exeter (GB)

The Enigma Variations, Elgar’s intimate portraits of his closest friends, were completed in 1899 and are one of the composer’s most lauded works. This new edition of the Variations is arranged for ensemble or chamber orchestra; with single winds and brass, piano and a small battery of percussion, it works equally as well with either single string or chamber string strength (max 6 5 4 3 2). The orchestration aims to keep the sparkle and warmth of Elgar’s original writing; the music has been adapted to fit a much smaller ensemble whilst still retaining the grandeur of a full symphony orchestra. From the delicate and simple beginnings, to the epic and grand Nimrod and full-throttle finale, this is the perfect edition for smaller ensembles wishing to explore one of the giants of the symphonic repertoire.

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Elgar, Edward – Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4 (1907)

for ensemble or chamber orchestra | 5’

WP 04.06.2017: Turner Sims Concert Hall, Southampton (GB)

Fauré, Gabriel – Pavane (1887)

for ensemble or chamber orchestra | 6’

This piece, dedicated to Countess Elisabeth Greffulhe, whose pavana is meant to be a kind of portrait in music, was composed in 1887. At the request of the dedicatee, Fauré himself added the chorus part. In this reduction most of the orchestral sounds have been preserved thanks to the instrumentation. The harp, an instrument totally absent from the original version, is used moderately so as not to overly alter the original sonorities conceived by the author. The arrangement can be executed, like the original version, with the addition of the choir.

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Haas, Georg Friedrich – das kleine ICH BIN ICH (2016)

for chamber ensemble and speaker | 40’

WP 21.07.2016: Universität Mozarteum, Salzburg (AT)

Mira Lobe’s das kleine Ich bin Ich is a great work of art. Not only is the content ingenious in its simplicity, clarity and moral aspiration; the linguistic art is highly sophisticated. What Mira Lobe makes out of rhythm and rhyme, how she works with repetitions, how she builds up tension with changing verse lengths – it is all of impressive poetical virtuosity.

One example:

The oft-repeated phrase (quasi the text’s “refrain”) changes its meaning according to how it is stressed:

SINCE I am, I KNOW not who,
LOOKING there and LOOKING here,
LOOKING here and LOOKING there,
WANTING to know WHO I am.

becomes

Since I AM, I know not WHO,
Looking THERE and looking HERE,
Looking HERE and looking THERE,
Wanting to KNOW, who I AM.

Mira Lobe makes no compromises with language to make her easier to understand; “childlike” affectation is foreign to her, and she has no fear of occasionally using words which are likely not part of children’s vocabulary.

Nor does my music attempt to be “childlike;” I take young people seriously. I speak my language; I know that these young people are alert enough to understand it.

Each of the motifs in the text is represented by its own instrument:

the field of flowers by the flute,
the frog by the trumpet (initially muted, then finally open),
the mare and the foal by the baritone and tenor saxophone,
the fishes by the harp,
the mother hippopotamus by the bass tuba, her child by the horn,
the parrot by the bass clarinet,
the dogs by the English horn, clarinet and trombone,
and the large soap bubble by the contraforte (or contrabassoon).

When the little ICH BIN ICH recognises itself an overtone chord sounds in the orchestra for the first time; it remains (shifted in pitch) until the end.

My third marriage broke down several years ago; since then, my daughter Sarah has not been living with me and I rarely see her now.

When she was small, Das kleine Ich bin Ich was her favourite book; I was obliged to read it to her hundreds of times.

This piece is dedicated to her.

Georg Friedrich Haas

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Halffter, Cristóbal – La rebelión de los ecos (2017)

for double string quintet | 20’

WP 19.01.2018: Basler Münster, Basel (CH)

Mahler, Gustav – Adagietto aus der 5. Symphonie

for chamber ensemble | 10’

WP 13.03.2017: Tischlerei, Berlin (DE)

Mahler, Gustav – Kindertotenlieder

for lower voice and chamber ensemble | 20’

One of the persistent fallacies about Mahler tells how he was moved to compose the Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children) following his older daughter’s death after a serious illness. Although Mahler’s (as other composers’) music does contain autobiographical elements, the Kindertotenlieder were written during the summers of 1901 and 1904, years before the distressing death of his daughter Maria (known as ‘Putzi’). The resulting popular hypothesis that Mahler had prophetic powers is not serious.

Mahler wrote the Kindertotenlieder – as well as Symphony No. 6 which he himself referred to as ‘The Tragic’ – at a time when almost all of the elements of his life were at their peak: The Vienna Hofoper (Court Opera) was in its heyday with productions of Pique Dame, Tristan, Louise and Falstaff (to name but a few), he had a wealth of inspirations for his compositions, his first successes as a composer were on the horizon, his recent marriage was – from his point of view at least – in good order and the two children were experiencing a happy father – at least during the summer months by Lake Worthersee. The fact that Mahler chose this particular moment to write his most tragic and hopeless music was even at the time difficult to understand, and caused Alma, for instance, to invent a series of interpretations ‘of a biographical manner’ (Jens Malte Fischer, Gustav Mahler. Der fremde Vertraute, Vienna 2003).

Unlike the composer Mahler, the poet Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866) did base the Kindertotenlieder on his own experiences: The death of two of his children (Luise on 31 December 1833 and Ernst on 16 January 1834) induced Rückert to write an extensive cycle of more than 400 poems which were published posthumously in 1872. Mahler selected five of the poems to set to music. Unlike in other song compositions, he altered only very little of the poems – mainly to repeat words. As with the majority of his songs, Mahler initially composed a piano version which he then orchestrated. Both versions were published in 1905 by the Leipzig-based publisher C. F. Kahnt. The world premiere took place on 29 January 1905 at the Vienna Musikverein, conducted by Mahler and sung by Friedrich Weidemann.

1. Nun will die Sonn’ so hell aufgeh’n (Once more the sun would gild the morn, composed in 1901): This song has a strikingly linear structure. It opens with sparse, desolate, bleak lines of ‘rhythmless’ constant notes. More rounded ‘harmonies’ only begin to join in gradually. This not only produces an atmosphere of emptiness and grief (‘melancholy’ according to Mahler), but is also reminiscent of very early music (historicism of the time) and the simplicity of some of the then-contemporary art (Secession, Toorop, Japan).

2. Nun seh’ ich wohl, warum so dunkle Flammen (Ah, now I know why oft I caught you gazing, composed in 1904): The characteristic three-note anacrusis is necessitated by the text of the poem (‘Nun seh’ ich’), but can be found in several of Mahler’s works and is one of his ‘favourite phrases’ (Eggebrecht) – such as in the well-known Adagietto from Symphony No. 5. The prominent role of the harp is also reminiscent of this piece which received its world premiere at the same time (Cologne 1904).

3. Wenn dein Mutterlein (When thy mother dear, composed in 1901): The third song is characterised by melodies reminiscent of children’s songs and stereotypical chanted counting rhymes which try in vain to ‘bring back’ the dead child. The melodies are embedded in a linear accompaniment that harks back to the first song, but with movement twice as fast as the voice part.

4. Oft denk’ ich, sie sind nur ausgegangen (I think oft’, they’ve only gone a journey, composed in 1901): Chromatics and abrupt key changes characterise this meditation in which a personal song is linked to resigned acceptance. Rhythm changes with significant pauses allow for quiet sighs, silence, composed speechlessness, as well as reflection and a search for consolation.

5. In diesem Wetter, in diesem Braus (In such a tempest, on such a day, composed in 1904): This is the only song to open with a Mahler-style march, which recalls the key (D minor) and melodic style of the first movement of Symphony No. 3 (song bar 9, symphony bar 136). But this tempestuousness is not sustained – it flows into a ‘lullaby of endless tenderness’ (Fischer): ‘langsam, wie ein Wiegenlied’ (‘as slowly as a lullaby’, bar 101), the father sings a song for the eternal rest of his child.

In the Kindertotenlieder as a whole, Mahler achieved a rather indescribable balance between extreme expressiveness and a moderated, well-balanced total restraint, which is directed inwards with a conquering power and does not lessen or romanticise the grieving process, but makes the listener hear and feel the acceptance of the inevitable.

Reinhold Kubik, Autumn 2008

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Mahler, Gustav – Rückert-Lieder

for lower voice and chamber ensemble | 22’

WP 15.02.2017: Jyväskylä City Theatre, Jyvaskyla (FI)

Monteverdi, Claudio – Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (1624)

for chamber ensemble | 25’

Thoughts on my new arrangement of Claudio Monteverdi’s Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, created as a meaningful coupling with Luke Bedford’s opera Through his Teeth (2013/14).

Monteverdi’s music – especially his music for the stage – was played prior to the advent of historical performance practice, always in performing versions expressly prepared for the occasions. Thus, the Monteverdi Complete Edition (published between 1926 and 1942) by the Italian composer and musicologist Gian Francesco Malipiero, however highly meritorious, must be defined as a child of its time, since it appears historically “incorrect;” dynamic indications, phrasing marks, etc. are rife in his edition, all of which contradict the originals. Nevertheless, it contributed decisively to Monteverdi’s rediscovery, and it is still in widespread use today.

No less a musical figure than Luciano Berio arranged Monteverdi’s Combattimento in a similar manner in 1966, scoring it for soprano, tenor, baritone, harpsichord and strings (three violas, violoncello and contrabass). Published by Universal Edition, it is still performed today by such ensembles as the Munich Philharmonic and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Therefore, the question inevitably arises as to whether it is reprehensible or even hubristic to produce yet another version which, once again, is not historical: why, when there are top-class Baroque orchestras everywhere which can play Monteverdi historically “correctly?”

In the spring of 2015, when stage-director Hendrik Müller and I decided to find a piece to complement Luke Bedford’s short opera (ca. 55 min.) Through his Teeth, we ended up selecting Monteverdi’s Combattimento; we liked its stylistic contrast along with the simultaneous contextual parallels. As with Through his Teeth, Combattimento has three singers whom we could adopt quasi identically. In the Monteverdi, the roles of both Testo and Tancredi are sung by one tenor, although the two parts can very well be performed by a mezzo-soprano and/or a baritone, since the tessitura is unusually high.

We assigned the role of Testo to the mezzo-soprano who, in Bedford’s opera, plays the triple role of Interviewer/Sister/S, and we adopted our performer of R (a baritone) from Tancredi. Clorinda remains a soprano, as in the original, performed by the singer of A.

Our ambition was to manage to the extent possible with the eight-man instrumental group of Through his Teeth when I was arranging the Monteverdi for our purposes; thus, for the first time in its 20-year history, the Holst Sinfonietta (the ensemble of the premiere production – they actually perform music of the 20th and 21st centuries) was going to play old music. It was an unusual task for me; normally, I prefer to arrange Mahler or Berg.

Now, what has been changed in my new version of Combattimento? The clarinet, which plays a large part in Bedford, was not used; it suggests anachronism with Monteverdi. Instead, I added a second violin, making it possible to have a four-part string group, as Monteverdi intended. Bedford does not use a viola, which means that the violoncello and the contrabass must occasionally play higher than usual; the cello in particular often plays in the alto range. A harp, accordion, trumpet and percussion are new; I used them very deliberately in terms of the dramaturgy.

The harp is used as the main continuo instrument, instead of a lute or harpsichord. It also has small solo passages when Clorinda sings; therefore, altogether it symbolises the Feminine in the piece – what could be better suited than the harp, which has always been used as a very feminine instrument? The accordion plays only when Tancredi sings, i.e. in contrast to the harp, it is the “masculine” continuo instrument.

The trumpet and percussion (tambourine, tom-tom and whip) support dancing, celebratory and bellicose scenes; they were composed as an additional commenting layer. As a result, Monteverdi’s orchestra is larger in my new version, with a wider tonal palette compared to the original and to Berio’s arrangement; my concern was with variety, colourfulness and theatrical effectiveness.

Nevertheless, it is a testimonial to Monteverdi’s genius; the three singers’ music is 100% Monteverdi, the spirit of the early Baroque is not broken but merely dramaturgically reinforced – nothing more and nothing less.

Klaus Simon, July 2016

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Pärt, Arvo – Nunc dimittis (2001/2016)

for 9 saxophones | 7’

Ravel, Maurice – Pavane pour une infante défunte (1910)

for ensemble or chamber orchestra | 7’

This famous piece, originally for piano, was orchestrated by Ravel in 1910. In this ensemble version, all the orchestral nuances created by Ravel have been preserved thanks to the choice of instrumentation, and above all to the use of the French horn, which in this piece in particular, is entrusted with the main theme. Furthermore, this instrument, thanks to its timbral characteristics, returns us and allows us to enjoy the fullness of orchestral sound despite the small number of instruments.

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Rihm, Wolfgang – Dort wie hier (2015)

for baritone and piano | 18’

WP 20.09.2016: Kölner Philharmonie, Köln (DE)

Schwartz, Jay – Music for string quartet (2017)

for string quartet | 29’

WP 30.04.2018: Bonn (DE)

Staud, Johannes Maria – Wheat, not oats, dear. I'm afraid. (2015)

for seven instruments | 11’

WP 10.10.2015: Helmut List-Halle, Graz (AT)

Wheat, not oats, dear. I'm afraid.
00:00

Tschaikowsky, Peter Iljitsch – 5. Symphonie (1888)

for ensemble or chamber orchestra | 47’

WP 22.04.2017: Yellow Arch Studios, Sheffield (GB)

Webern, Anton – 2 Lieder (1918/1919)

for voice and ensemble

Webern, Anton – 4 Stücke op. 7 (1910)

for violin and ensemble | 5’

WP 17.04.2016: Montreal (CA)

Webern composed the Four Pieces in 1910; he made the definitive revision in 1914. Stylistically, they are aphorisms, extremely dense, concentrated in substance and form; they are only 9, 24, 14 and 15 bars long respectively.

In my arrangement, I attempted to bundle this concentrated energy with instrumental colours, to accentuate contrasts and textures and to juxtapose this differentiated sonic world with the solo violin, which reproduces Webern’s original text, unchanged in its virtuosity and expressiveness and exploring the greatest variety of violin sounds.

Richard Dünser

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Webern, Anton – 6 Stücke op. 6 (1909)

for chamber orchestra | 12’

WP 25.01.2018: Stadthaus, Winterthur (CH)

Zemlinsky, Alexander – Kammerkonzert (1896)

for ensemble | 25’

WP 06.06.2016: Musikverein, Brahms-Saal, Wien (AT)

Zemlinsky composed his Trio Op. 3 for clarinet, cello and piano in 1896 at the tender age of 25. It is an early stroke of genius that already gives a clear indication of Zemlinsky’s own voice emerging, even though his debt to Brahms and Mahler is still very much in evidence. In line with Alban Berg’s Chamber Concerto and as a bridge to this, Richard Dünser has now arranged this trio for 15 solo instruments or small orchestra. The Mahler reference in the slow movement is further emphasised by the use of strings and harp. The world premiere will be held in Vienna’s Musikverein in the 2015/16 season.

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Vocal and choir

Fennessy, David – Ne reminiscaris (2017)

for mixed 16-part choir a cappella | 9’

WP 30.04.2017: Cork (IE)

Finnissy, Michael – Tom Fool's Wooing (1975/1978)

for 14 voices | 20’

WP 12.03.2016: Milton Court Concert Hall, London (GB)

Tom Fool’s Wooing for 14 solo voices, was initially conceived for the John Allldis choir, who had performed an earlier work of mine (Cipriano) for 10-voice ensemble. The writing took from 1975 to 1978, three emotionally and financially turbulent years, and by the time it was finished, the choir was no longer in existence. In 2013 James Weeks told me of his intention to finally perform the work, and, after looking through the score, I decided to considerably revise the central folk-play that lends the work its title. The folk-play is a satirical courtship and wedding-preparation, crude and coarse in content. I have framed it with amatory verses from Eastern Europe and Ancient Greece, along with excerpts from the ‘Epithalamion’ of Edmund Spenser. This ‘love poetry’ concerns the different ways women and men form relationships. The framing sections are elaborate in texture and demand extraordinary virtuosity from the singers, the central play is in extreme contrast – homophonic and simple in rhythm, with two of the singers playing drums.

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Rihm, Wolfgang – Missa brevis (2015)

for choir a cappella | 20’

WP 11.03.2017: Prinzregententheater, München (DE)

Missa brevis, for a capella chorus, was commissioned by the Bavarian Radio. By now, the word has spread that Rihm’s music always has a cantabile heart; in writing for the choir he interlaces the broad cantilena with great technical mastery.

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Opera / ballet

Brand, Max – Maschinist Hopkins (1928)

135’

WP 30.11.2020: Wien (AT)

With his opera Maschinist Hopkins (composed from 1927–1928 and first performed in 1929) Brand really caught the spirit of the time: the opera is a mixture of thriller and jealous tragedy, with industrial romanticism and the glow of stage revues combined with corporate arrogance and unemployment. With all this tension, there is even a portion of romantic sentimentality.

The music of this ‘first German factory opera’ is powerful, full of contrast, colourfully orchestrated and garnished with fashionable dance. In the scenes of personal emotions, Brand’s musical language is of a rich operatic character. In the machine hall scenes he uses mechanical sounds, and as a third stylistic element – also used to portray a certain emotional context – he makes use of jazz styles. Brand’s music symbolises a lascivious, sensuous world.

The deeper meaning of the libretto (written by the composer himself) is concerned with celebrating work as the highest possible virtue. The protagonists are in a sense unimportant. The motivation and source of all events is the spirit of the machines, personified by the machinist Hopkins.

It is not that the machine that should serve man, giving him a respectable and honourable existence, but rather that man is simply part of the machine. He serves it, and by doing so helps advance the idea of work towards its goal. This is why Bill, who wants to use the machines for his own ends, must die. Hopkins himself has no human qualities; he’s just the executive organ of the idea of the machine, he has become a machine himself.

This ideology corresponds to the futurism movement of the time, an aesthetic current that regarded technology and civilisation as the greatest advances of all and scorned all other values.

By 1933 Maschinist Hopkins had been performed over 200 times in 37 different productions, and its composer seemed to be on his way to becoming a famous composer. This, however, was not to be. The worldwide economic crisis and the rise of the Nazis drove Max Brand to emigrate in 1937, first to Prague, and then to Geneva, Rio de Janeiro and finally New York.

The Maschinist Hopkins has earned its place as a significant work of the 20th century. It has lost none of its ideological power and now in the 21st century offers a sober but also moving perspective on technological advancement.

Synopsis

In a bar in a working class area the factory workers are meeting to discuss their concerns with their foreman Jim. One of them leaves the group: the machinist Bill. He goes to Jim’s wife Nell, who will do anything for him. She gives him the key to the factory safe, which is in Jim’s safekeeping, and goes to the factory with Bill, who intends to steal the factory secrets from the safe. Jim appears, observing the commotion of the machines, with their almost human appearance, and notices Bill and Nell. In the ensuing fight Jim is killed by the flywheel of a machine started by Nell.

Years after the action of this prologue, the first act takes place. Bill and Nell are married and have become enormously rich by using the the stolen factory secrets. But Bill can’t get enough: he wants to own the factory in which his crime took place and close it down. Machinist Hopkins recognises the consequences of the plan, which would leave countless workers without income, but he is sacked by Bill soon after his rise to power. Nell falls in love with Hopkins during a brief encounter. Bill, who always gives in to wishes of his temperamental wife, even allows her to go into theatre and to develop a career.

Second act: In the machine room Bill, the new director of the factory, is recognised by some of the workers as Jim’s murderer. Hopkins, who is there at the time, vows to kill Bill, in order to save the factory and the workers. He appears in Nell’s dressing room at the theatre, forces her to make a confession and is able to make such an impression on her that she is willing to help expose Bill.

The third act takes place some time later. Bill is hiding behind the anonymity of a worker, while Nell is completely taken with Hopkins. He, however, rejects her, as she has already done what he needed her to do. Nell becomes a prostitute. By chance, Bill hears of her new profession in a bar, and charges to Nell’s apartment, where he finds her with a customer. Completely enraged, he kills Nell. The final scene takes place back in the machine room. Bill, in a frenzied state by now, tries to set off an explosion but is hindered by Hopkins, who suddenly appears, shoving him under the flywheel, so that he dies the same death as the murdered Jim. The work, meanwhile, carries on.

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Fennessy, David – Sweat of the Sun (2015/2016)

after ‘Eroberung des Nutzlosen’ by Werner Herzog for 2 actors, ensemble of singers and orchestra | 75’

WP 28.05.2016: Muffathalle, München (DE)

It's fair to say that all the thoughts, images and ideas explored in Sweat of the Sun have as their starting point the collection of diaries published as Die Eroberung des Nutzlosen (Conquest of the Useless) by Werner Herzog. In the end however, that text has become only a part of a constellation of influences that includes the movie Fitzcarraldo, Les Blank's documentary Burden of Dreams, Verdi’s Rigoletto, audio recordings of Peruvian conch-shell players, Greek myths, the Christian Passion, theories of monochords, Bavarian folk songs …

It seems like the further one sinks inside the text, the further one becomes removed from the particulars of the story and instead gets involved with something deeper and more ambiguous to do with the inner experiences of a protagonist who is searching for … something.

Sweat of the Sun is in three parts. Musically, the first part consists of two distinct elements – first, everything which is outside of the protagonist; the environment, if you will, and second, that which is inside him; his motivations. The outside is characterised by a surround tapestry of voices; real and imagined while the inside is personified by the body of strings; very physical and raw. A kind of ‘motif’, which dominates the whole piece, is a slow and inexorable upward glissando.

The second part is characterised by everything which the first part is not. It is quiet, still and remote. I imagined a kind of ‘Garden of Gethsemane’. It was really also a chance to delve musically into the images conjured up by Herzog's prose. A mezzo-soprano acts as a guide through this fever dream-scape. The sense of what is real and not real is completely abandoned and instead, we're in the realm of the sensual.

The third part is a ‘snap’ back to reality, or at least, the reality of the task at hand – to get the ship over the mountain. The presence of an extremely large and somewhat daunting instrument (or is it a machine?) onstage begs the question – what to do with it?! Rather than attempting to replicate the sheer force and physical effort involved in moving the ship, I wanted to explore something more fundamental to the whole concept of the work – the futility and absurdity of the venture. Our protagonist has realised his vision but has also perhaps come to terms with its uselessness.

In the Epilogue of Conquest of the Useless Herzog expresses his desire to ultimately escape from the “vortex of words”. Similarly, in Sweat of the Sun, the spoken (or sung) language has become redundant and all that is left is action. The protagonist is left on his own, playing his instrument.

David Fennessy

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Haas, Georg Friedrich – Morgen und Abend (2014/2015)

for soli, choir and orchestra | 90’

WP 13.11.2015: Royal Opera House, London (GB)

Georg Friedrich Haas in an interview on his opera Morgen und Abend.


Jon Fosse tells the story of Johannes the fisherman, a simple man in the autumn of his years. He recalls his past life, the two people who meant most to him – his wife and his friend Peter, who have both long since passed away. Johannes’ yearning will come to an end on this day. When his daughter comes to check on him the following morning, she finds him dead.

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Janáček, Leoš – Aus einem Totenhaus (1927-1928)


critical new edition and practical version (by Sir Charles Mackerras and John Tyrrell)

WP 08.10.2017: Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff (GB)

Janáček did not live to see his final opera Z mrtvého domu [From the House of the Dead] performed. The work was so different from his previous operas in its often chamber-like orchestration and its lack of an apotheosis ending that his pupils took it upon themselves to ‘revise’ it for its première in Brno in 1930, reorchestrating it and, most notoriously, rewriting the ending. Ever since the shortcomings of the original published edition became apparent there have been attempts to return to what Janáček left at his death. The new critical edition by John Tyrrell supplants the Mackerras-Tyrrell ‘provisional edition’ (1990) with a thorough-going revision based on the score made by Janáček’s copyists under his direct supervision and corrected by him. In his previous operas Janáček had the opportunity of making minor corrections to the score during rehearsals. Because of his death extensive tidying up of many inconsistencies has been necessary here. All such editorial interventions are shown as such and are described in the Critical Report.

Janáček wrote his own libretto translating from the original Russian into Czech as he went along and left in many untranslated words and phrases. Previous editions replaced these with a revised text in standard Czech. With the possibility today of surtitles (which can provide the sense of what is sung on stage) the new edition prints Janáček’s original text, whose departures from standard Czech constitute an important part of the sound image of the opera. All non-standard words or phrases (whether Russian, Ukrainian, Moravian dialect, etc.) are marked with asterisks and are explained, usually with reference to Dostoevsky’s original Russian, in an extensive appendix printed at the back of the score.

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Janáček, Leoš – The Makropulos Affair (1925)

Opera in 3 acts | 120’
revised edition by Jirí Zahrádka

WP 21.11.2014: Janácek-Theater, Brno (CZ)

Notes on the issues concerning this edition

In the new critical edition of the opera The Makropulos Case by Leoš Janáček, the performance material has been completely reworked on the basis of all the preserved sources. The revision of the score involved a comparison of the autograph score with three copies that originated during the composer’s lifetime.

The primary source is the copy that was prepared by Václav Sedláček for the publishers Universal Edition and that contains the subsequent corrections. This copy was used by the conductor Otakar Ostrčil in 1928 during rehearsals for the Prague premiere of the opera at the National Theatre, which was attended by Janáček himself. The second copy was produced by Jaroslav Kulhánek and was used for the first performance of the work at Brno National Theatre conducted by František Neumann. Janáček was actively involved in the rehearsals for this performance. The third copy contains Act One and was prepared in 1926–1927, also for Universal Edition. Additional important sources which influenced the text of the new edition are the handwritten piano score by Ludvík Kundera with corrections entered by Janáček, three handwritten piano scores from the Brno premiere, and also the proof and first print of the piano score. The original handwritten orchestral and choral parts from which the work was played and sung for the first time and also the vocal soloist parts that have been preserved are also significant. Three copies of Čapek’s drama The Makropulos Case with handwritten changes and corrections by the composer were treated as authoritative for the wording of the opera text. The new edition also takes into consideration Janáček’s corrections to the score which have been preserved in private collections, for example. Finally, the lengthy correspondence between Janáček and the conductors, the publishers Universal Edition and the translator Max Brod, for example, also played an important role in determining the work’s final form.

The new critical edition therefore presents the work in a form that corresponds to the greatest possible extent to the ideas of the composer, taking all the relevant sources into account. In a departure from the earlier edition, the extreme instrumental pitches typical of Janáček have returned following their elimination by the copyists (Sedláček and Kulhánek played in the Brno orchestra and were aware of details such as the theatre’s lack of a double bass with an extra 5th string for lower notes). This edition also uses the spectrum of instruments envisaged by Janáček, with special instruments such as the viola d'amore, the children’s drum and, as mentioned above, the five-stringed double bass. Minor instrumental additions of unknown origin have been removed from the score and errors have been rectified, including incorrectly notated metre. The dynamics are a separate issue. At first Janáček only gave a rough idea of the dynamics and did not enter any markings at all in the vocal parts. These approximations were elaborated in more detail for the first performance. Janáček played an active role in the rehearsals and he regarded the dynamics entered by the conductor František Neumann as exemplary. However, they were not included in the printed edition and over the course of time the entries in the score, which was still in use in the 1990s, were covered by markings written by other conductors. With the benefit of his experience from other editions of Janáček’s works, the editor has been able to reconstruct the dynamics entered by František Neumann by comparing the sources and has integrated them into this new edition. The same applies to the expression marks and some phrasing.

The new edition of the opera The Makropulos Case has been edited by PhDr. Jiří Zahrádka, who has been curator of the Janáček Archive at the Moravian State Museum for 20 years and has written numerous studies on the life and work of Leoš Janáček. His latest publications include the book ‘Theatre must not be Comedy for the People’. Leoš Janáček and the National Theatre in Brno. Jiří Zahrádka has also edited the new critical editions of many more works by Leoš Janáček such as Šárka, Osud (Destiny), The Excursions of Mr. Brouček, The Cunning Little Vixen, the Glagolitic Mass, the Sinfonietta (in preparation) and chamber music. He is also working on a critical edition of Leoš Janáček’s complete correspondence.

The new critical edition will be fully available from the 2015/2016 season. Unlike the Bärenreiter edition published at about the same time, Universal Edition’s new edition has taken advantage of all available sources, including the aforementioned duplicate of the full score by Janáček’s principal copyist Václav Sedláček. This manuscript, housed in Universal Edition’s archive, may well be considered the work’s most important primary source, since the composer had it sent to his publisher Universal Edition immediately after the first performances and resultant corrections as its complete and definitive version.

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Rossini, Gioachino – Il barbiere di Siviglia (1816)

for solos and chamber orchestra | 70’
version for children

WP 12.11.2017: Teatro alla Scala, Mailand (IT)

Schoeck, Othmar – Das Schloss Dürande (1937/1941)

150’

WP 31.05.2018: Konzert Theater Bern, Bern (CH)

Wagner, Richard – Das Rheingold

for medium-sized orchestra | 140’

This transcription is geared to the forces available in a mid-size orchestra. In the course of arranging the work, the Klangfarben of the orchestra were expanded and “modernised” by greater differentiation within the historically given spectrum and by introducing new instruments. I strove both to expand and condense the sound, especially since I of course kept the instruments typical of the Ring (Wagner tuba, bass trumpet, contrabass trombone, etc.); the newly introduced ones (alto flute, heckelphone, contrabass clarinet, contrabassoon and cimbasso, the latter as a link between tubas and trombones) become especially significant as additional dramatic-psychological sonic elements.

A remark on the orthography: the notation of some transposing instruments in Wagner’s Rheingold – horns, Wagner tubas, trumpets and bass trumpet – is evidently still in the experimental stage. Wagner notated these instruments inconsistently, using regular key signatures in some sections and omitting them in others, placing accidentals before individual notes as required. The full score of this transcription retains that idiosyncrasy, since the possibility that that notation also has a certain symbolic character cannot be ruled out.

For example, Wagner uses key signatures in the context of Valhalla, as if, perhaps, the “innocence” of the natural instruments had been lost through Alberich’s curse; the instruments are “grounded” by the key signatures. In the final tableau of Scene 4, all the instruments take the protective cover, as it were, of the apotheosis in E-flat major (with key signatures). However, they are dispensed with in the introduction (primeval Nature scene), in which the transposing instruments, in their original form, symbolise the “sound of Nature.”

The cast of Rheingold

Specifying the Fach of the voices was dispensed with since this arrangement of the work can also be performed by lighter voices, not only the traditional high-dramatic ones:

Woglinde (Freia)*: soprano
Wellgunde: soprano
Flosshilde: mezzo-soprano
Fricka: mezzo-soprano
Freia (Woglinde)*: soprano
Erda: mezzo-soprano
Loge: tenor
Froh (Mime)*: tenor
Wotan: baritone
Donner (Fasolt)*: baritone
Mime (Froh)*: tenor
Alberich: baritone
Fasolt (Donner)*: baritone
Fafner: bass

* These roles can be played by one performer, if necessary.

The onstage music (audio) for Wagner’s Rheingold is available on hire from the publisher.

Orchestra: 54 players

Eberhard Kloke

Translation by Grant Chorley


Full score of Scene 1:

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A brochure with detailed information on the arrangement and casting (overlaps and double-casting options) is available from Universal Edition: promotion@universaledition.com

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