Georg Friedrich Haas’ work limited approximations, a concerto for 6 pianos in twelve-tone intervals and orchestra, premiered to great acclaim on 17 Oct 2010 at the Donauesching Festival 2010 under Sylvain Cambreling with the SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg. The piece also received the SWR Symphony Orchestra Composition Prize for the “most remarkable orchestral work of the festival“, which is chosen by the musicians. The pianos establish six microtonal scales, each with their own internal tuning, which are then taken on by the orchestra and combined, finally emerging in full twelve-tone colour.
Sustained string tones are layered upon each other, and are then gradually replaced by rhythmically expanding piano parts including all imaginable beat tones. Woodwind and brass add strength and contrast with the string parts. The dynamics range from molto pianissimo to powerful forces of nature. “Melodies“ in the form of arias and intermezzi break with Haas’ usual layers of sound, glissandi and sequences of accelerandi/rallentandi, and lead to the concluding part of the piece. It is almost incredible to think that this kind of sound can be produced by acoustic instruments without electronic enhancement. 30 minutes of intense, intoxicating music, changing, gripping, fascinating. Haas shows us a fantastic example of his unique language and imagery.
With the prize, the orchestra also commits itself to performing the piece on future occasions.