CRITICA MUSICAL / MUSICAL CRITIC

Um blog de Álvaro Sílvio Teixeira

2008/09/30

Pierre Boulez - Livre pour cordes
Wiener Philharmoniker - Pierre Boulez, conductor


Pierre Boulez - Dérive I
Ensemble Intercontemporain - Peter Eötvös, conductor

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2008/09/29

Olivier Messiaen - Dieu parmi nous
Anna Myeong plays the last piece (God among us) of Olivier Messiaen's "La Nativité du Seigneur". The organ: Hellmuth Wolff (Opus. 40) in Bales Recital Hall, KU (Lawrence, Kansas)

2008/09/25

The Grand Finale of musikfest berlin 08

musikfest berlin 08 came to a resounding close with a grand festival finale in Hangar 2 of Tempelhof Airport. On the program were Karlheinz Stockhausen's Gruppen für drei Orchester and Olivier Messiaen's Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum, performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker under the direction of Principal Conductor Sir Simon Rattle and co-conductors Daniel Harding and Michael Boder. Also receiving a performance in the 4200 m² and 18-meter-tall Hangar 2 by the Ensemble intercontemporain under the direction of Susanna Mälkki was Messiaen's two hour long work Des Canyons aux Étoiles.

Making guest appearances beginning on September 4 at musikfest berlin 08 at the invitation of the Berliner Festspiele and in cooperation with the Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker besides the five great symphony orchestras of the German capital were numerous top-flight orchestras from the international musical scene. Among the guests were the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam with Mariss Jansons, the Göteborgs Symfoniker with Alexander Briger, the London Symphony Orchestra with Daniel Harding, the Orchestre de Paris with Christoph Eschenbach, the SWR-Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden and Freiburg with Sylvain Cambreling, as well as the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées with Philippe Herreweghe. Also invited were renowned soloists such as Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Akiko Suwanai, Michelle de Young, Angela Denoke, and Measha Brueggergosman.

At the center of the festival as a whole were the orchestral works of Olivier Messiaen - an homage to a great French composer, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year. Performed together with orchestral music by Messiaen were works by Anton Bruckner and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Speaking at the festival's conclusion, Joachim Sartorius, general manager of the Berliner Festspiele, remarked that "Stockhausen once referred to a piano piece by Messiaen as 'fantastic music of the stars.' Over the past 18 days, these two composers, with Anton Bruckner at their side, have guided us through glittering, emotionally powerful, and ecstatic sound worlds, allowing us to experience transcendence."

On the program of musikfest berlin 08 were altogether 44 works by 18 composers, among others Richard Wagner, Alexander Zemlinsky, Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel, Pierre Boulez, Arvo Pärt, Astor Piazolla, Francis Poulenc, Alexander Scriabin, Peter Eötvös, and Gérard Grisey. Wolfgang Rihm's Concerto "Séraphin" received its world premiere, performed at Radialsystem V by MusikFabrik under the direction of Emilio Pomárico. In honor of American composer Elliott Carter, who will turn 100 in December of this year, the Staatskapelle Berlin under the direction of Principal Conductor Daniel Barenboim performed a portrait concert featuring works from his most recent and highly productive decade.

musikfest berlin 09 took place between September 4 and 20. Detailed information on the upcoming season's program and on advanced sales will be announced in spring 2009. The press office, September 24.

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2008/09/21

Beethoven - Symphony 5 - Arturo Toscanini


Telecast March 22, 1952, from Carnegie Hall, New York City. In the notes, Mortimer H. Franks reports that the engineers were unfamiliar with Carnegie Hall, and that explains the less than ideal camera shots and directions. Also, the hot lights got the 85 year old Toscanini sweating so much that by the end of the symphony he had to close his eyes and bear it! He never telecasted another concert live again. in youtube.com/user/TheGreatPerformers

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2008/09/19

Mauricio Kagel (1931 - 2008)

Kagel has died in German, yesterday, at 76.

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2008/09/11

Elliott Carter celebrates his 100th birthday

In his honor, Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin will perform a jubilee concert in the framework of musikfest berlin 08. Scheduled for September 15th in the Philharmonic, the program will include Soundings, Of Rewaking, Horn Concerto, and Symphonia: sum fluxae pretium spei. The two last-named works will be receiving their German first performances. This event serves as an upbeat to a series of concerts in Elliott Carter’s honor presented by the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Staatskapelle Berlin.

Daniel Barenboim has been an admirer of Carter's compositional artistry for many years, and has performed many of his works. For musikfest berlin 08, he has assembled an all Carter program, one designed (according to Barenboim) to be “as variegated as possible.” Barenboim is fascinated in particular by the complexity of this music. “I have always held Elliott Carter in the highest esteem as a composer. He is an endless source of knowledge about music. Moreover, there exists a personal tie between us: both of us studied with the same composition teacher – Nadia Boulanger.” Barenboim will be the soloist in the performance of Carter's piano concerto Soundings. “I'm simply delighted to perform an entire evening of his works in Berlin! A hundred years from now, people will refer to Elliott Carter as one of the most important figures in the musical scene during the second half of the 20th century.” (Daniel Barenboim)

Elliott Carter – who was born in New York City in 1908 – will be 100 years old in December. He cultivated friendships with Charles Ives and Gustav Holst, and studied languages, philosophy, piano, and oboe. Again and again, the phenomena of his times have spurred him on toward new compositional possibilities - one powerful influence was the literary modernity exemplified by such writers as Marcel Proust and James Joyce. Carter is one of the most important 20th century composers. musikfest berlin 08 celebrates his birthday at the Berlin Philharmonic. in musikfest berlin 08' s Press Release - 11 September

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2008/09/08

Tribal custom

ISLAMABAD, Aug 29: Balochistan Senator Sardar Israrullah Zehri stunned the upper house on Friday when he defended the recent incident of burying alive three teenage girls and two women in his province, saying it was part of “our tribal custom.”

Senator Bibi Yasmin Shah of the PML-Q raised the issue citing a newspaper report that the girls, three of them aged between 16 and 18 years, had been buried alive a month ago for wishing to marry of their own will.

The barbaric incident took place in a remote village of Jafarabad district and a PPP minister and some other influential people were reported to have been involved. The report accused the provincial government of trying to hush up the issue.

Ms Shah said that the hapless girls and the women were first shot in the name of honour and then buried while they were alive. She also said that no criminal had been arrested so far.

Acting Chairman of Senate Jan Mohammad Jamali, who was presiding over the session, said: “Yasmin Shah should go to our society and see for herself what the situation is like there and then come back to raise such questions in the house.”

Maulana Ghafoor Haideri of the JUI-F said there was no tradition of burying women alive in Baloch society because it was against Islam’s teachings.

Jamal Leghari of PML-Q emphatically stated that there was no custom of burying people alive, adding that the Baloch people did not believe in it.

Senator Jan Jamali commented: “This is a provincial matter and it is being investigated at the provincial level and let us wait for the report of the investigation.” Leader of the Opposition Kamil Ali Agha accused the Balochistan government of ignoring the incident and said no jirga could order the burying of women alive and no law allowed anyone to commit such a crime and go unpunished. He urged the government to punish the people involved in it.

Leader of the House Mian Raza Rabbani said: “We condemn the heinous act and assure the house that a complete report on the incident would be submitted on Monday.” Ahmed Hassan in dawn.com (2008/08/30)

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2008/09/07

Concert conducted by Paavo Järvi on Lake Leigo. Photo by Mary Ellyn Hutton.

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2008/09/06

Paavo Järvi: the new music can start anywhere

Álvaro S. Teixeira: Which 20th century (not contemporaries) composers are the more interesting for you? And the more important?

Paavo Järvi: There is Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Nielsen, Prokofiev, Sibelius. Obviously there are representatives from other countries, such as Debussy, and Ravel. One can name others that have made major contributions to the 20th century repertoire. No two are more influential, for me, than Debussy and Stravinsky. There are two kinds of composers, one who creates new language, and one who creates something new by using the already established vocabulary. Take for example, Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler.

But it is the composer who is able to create a new language that brings the music forward in the most influential way. There is no question that composers such as Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Nielsen, Debussy, are pioneers in this respect.

AT: What do you search when you play contemporary works?

PJ: I try keeping an open mind. In today's new music environment, one does not necessarily have to go in searching for one particular style or method of getting a message across. There is no limitation of how to express one's ideas and therefore it is a very good time for New Music. You can go from the traditional approach, to Schoenberg's approach, or one can start from minimalism. There are many varieties of possibilities in the middle, and mutations of these possibilities. Today the new music can start anywhere.

What's most important is to keep an open mind when one looks at the score.

What I am looking for ultimately is not how the work is put together, but rather what the work is able to communicate in the performance. In other words, I look for what is being communicated and how the work communicates with the listener. I am not interested in intellectual exercise just for the sake of it.

AT: Do you feel that it's good to play, in the first part, a classic or romantic work and, in a second one, a contemporary creation, or the opposite?

PJ: It all depends on a piece and the environment you play the piece in. In general, the opening work is short so one can continue with standard repertoire, which to me is not always ideal. It often diminishes the first piece to an opening fanfare role. On the other hand, in most cities, there is major difficulty programming a completely new piece in the second half, unless there is a good enough reason to keep the audience interested in staying. The current notion is that there is no use putting a new work in the second half if means losing the audience. Again, it ultimately depends on the environment and the work itself.

AT: Some heads of festivals and music halls they imagine that people don't come to contemporary music concerts. It's true, it's just a stupid idea, or can be true in some undeveloped countries?

PJ: There is some truth to all three that you suggest in your question. In many communities around the world it is difficult to program New Music because of audiences. This is certainly true in the US. In some cities in the US, it is absolutely mandatory to feature a new work, in other cities it is seen as too much of a risk which might translate into decreasing audiences. Ultimately, each city knows their audience and their own traditions. Each needs to be sensitive to the realities they face. Some older audiences fear the new music. Audiences in the 60s and 70s were so frightened of the New Music played at that time that they now distrust new music. We are, in essence, paying for our's parents sins ±. I notice that right now there is less fear associated with new music. Concert goers now are much more positive towards discovering new. Today the music that we play often gets better response than the standard repertoire because the audience can identify with it. The key is to keep programming New Music that the audience can connect with. In saying that, I don't mean we should program works that aren't difficult, but rather high quality music that challenges the audience.

AT: When you conduct the precision it's the most important?

PJ: It's always important to be clear, but it is obviously not the most important thing about conducting, to be manually clear. The most important part is to be able to communicate through your movements, what the music should sound like. A display of virtuosity, for virtuosity's sake is meaningless.

AT: Before start work with a orchestra how many days you need to know a new orchestral work?

PJ: It all depends on the piece. I always find that learning a piece, especially a completely new work, is just the beginning of the journey. No work can be completely understood before the first orchestra rehearsal; before the score comes to life for the first time, in real time. It is not unusual, even for exceptional composers to change many things in the score after or during the first rehearsal with orchestra. While studying the score is extremely important, it is only the beginning of a longer process.

AT: In your first lecture, alone, what do you search?

PJ: I have, over the years, developed an established system of approaching a score. I always start every score with same exact step-by-step approach. It's something that I do with each score, new or old.

AT: It's a good idea to be conductor and composer?

PJ: I think it is a very good idea. It is not absolutely necessary. But composers look at music in a different way than performers do. If the composer happens to take the art of conducting seriously then a conductor/composer combination can be a very powerful one. Conducting is an art and not a hobby. Many composers and soloist turned Conductors forget this. Often, great composers are weak conductors, and perhaps do more damage by conducting their own music than good. This was not the case, of course, with Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss and many other great composers and equally formidable conductors. For example Esa-Pekka Salonen is an excellent conductor and composer. So, if both art forms are treated equally, the combination can be powerful.

AT: Give us 10 contemporary pieces that you find very interesting, and, in your opinion, the world must to know.

PJ: I can give you 200 pieces that people should hear and it still would be meaningless. It is not always helpful to create a gradation of music you should hear. We need to establish a culture that encourages people hear new music. From Northern Europe, I can name many composers whose music should be heard. They are Saariaho, Tüür, Sumera, Salonen, and Lindberg, to name but a few. A similar list could be put together practically from each European country and certainly from the US. I never look a list of top 10 contemporary composers and grade them. I am more (...) piece¡± oriented. If there is a piece that is exceptional, it needs to be heard. It does not necessarily mean that the composer who wrote it is automatically the best. It is important to take things piece-by-piece and see what each has to offer. Only history will tell how correct our judgments were. I don't want to contemplate a ranking because that would be completely pointless.

August 2006

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2008/09/04

Iannis Xenakis - Metastasis (Spectral View)
Hans Rosbaud, conductor; SWF Symphony Orchestra; October 1955; Metastasis or Metastaseis ("dialectic transformations"), is an orchestral work by Iannis Xenakis, a Greek composer-architect and a major figure in the postwar development of musical modernism worldwide. He is particularly remembered for the pioneering use of stochastic mathematical techniques in his compositions, including probability (Maxwell-Boltzmann kinetic theory of gases, aleatory distribution of points on a plane, minimal constraints, Gaussian distribution, Markov chains), game theory, group theory, Boolean algebra and Brownian motion.

Metastasis was inspired by Einstein's view of time (a function of matter & energy) and structured on mathematical ideas by Xenakis's colleague Le Corbusier. The 1st and 3rd movements don't have a melodic theme to hold them together, but rather depend on the strength of this conceptualization of time. The 2nd movement does have some sort of melodic element. A fragment of a 12-tone row is used, with durations based on the Fibonacci sequence (1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34...)

The preliminary sketch for Metastasis was in graphic notation looking more like a blueprint than a musical score, showing graphs of mass motion and glissandi like structural beams of the piece, with sound frequencies on one axis and time on the other. In this video I tried to display this by presenting the frequency spectrum (0-20.000Hz) of the piece and how Xenakis actually "drew" music. in youtube.com/user/babylonianman

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2008/09/03

Varèse / Xenakis / Le Corbusier - poeme électronique
Originally performed during the universal exhibition of Bruxelles in 1958. A mix of colors, lights, sounds, voices, images and electroacoustic music. As Le Corbusier said himself: "Le Poème électronique se propose de montrer, au sein d'un tumulte angoissant, notre civilisation partie à la conquête des temps modernes". ////"Le poeme electronique proposes to show, within a distressing tumult, our civilization on her way to conquest modern times"//// in youtube.com/user/phantomoftheradio

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Gesang der Junglinge

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Stockhausen - Hymnen
HYMNEN is a composition that integrates a wide variety of national anthems and transforms them electronically. in youtube.com/user/oshinsaginian

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