Dmitri Shostakovich – Piano Concerto No. 2 (1957)

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Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op. 102, by Dmitri Shostakovich was composed in 1957 for his son Maxim’s 19th birthday. Maxim premiered the piece during his graduation at the Moscow Conservatory. It is an uncharacteristically cheerful piece, much more so than most of Shostakovich’s works. The work is scored for solo piano, three flutes (third doubling piccolo), two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, timpani, snare drum and strings. Despite his dismissal of the concerto, the composer performed it himself on a number of occasions, and recorded it along with his first concerto. Both are played at fast tempi rarely matched in modern recordings.



Arnold Schoenberg – A Survivor from Warsaw op. 46 (1947)

 

Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), A Survivor from Warsaw op. 46. From the Album Simon Rattle Edition: The Second Viennese School.

Franz Mazura: speaker / Men’s voices of the City of Brimingham Symphony chorus / City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Conductor: Simon Rattle.

Text:

I cannot remember everything. I must have been unconscious most of the time.

I remember only the grandiose moment when they all started to sing, as if prearranged, the old prayer they had neglected for so many years – the forgotten creed!

But I have no recollection how I got underground to live in the sewers of Warsaw for so long a time. The day began as usual: Reveille when it still was dark. “Get out!” Whether you slept or whether worries kept you awake the whole night. You had been separated from your children, from your wife, from your parents. You don’t know what happened to them… How could you sleep?

The trumpets again – “Get out! The sergeant will be furious!” They came out; some very slowly, the old ones, the sick ones; some with nervous agility. They fear the sergeant. They hurry as much as they can. In vain! Much too much noise, much too much commotion! And not fast enough! The Feldwebel shouts: “Achtung! Stilljestanden! Na wird’s mal! Oder soll ich mit dem Jewehrkolben nachhelfen? Na jut; wenn ihrs durchaus haben wollt!” (“Attention! Stand still! How about it, or should I help you along with the butt of my rifle? Oh well, if you really want to have it!”)

The sergeant and his subordinates hit (everyone): young or old, (strong or sick), quiet, guilty or innocent …

It was painful to hear them groaning and moaning.

I heard it though I had been hit very hard, so hard that I could not help falling down. We all on the (ground) who could not stand up were (then) beaten over the head…

I must have been unconscious. The next thing I heard was a soldier saying: “They are all dead!”

Whereupon the sergeant ordered to do away with us.

There I lay aside half conscious. It had become very still – fear and pain. Then I heard the sergeant shouting: „Abzählen!“ (“Count off!”)

They start slowly and irregularly: one, two, three, four – “Achtung!” The sergeant shouted again, “Rascher! Nochmals von vorn anfange! In einer Minute will ich wissen, wieviele ich zur Gaskammer abliefere! Abzählen!“ (“Faster! Once more, start from the beginning! In one minute I want to know how many I am going to send off to the gas chamber! Count off!”)

They began again, first slowly: one, two, three, four, became faster and faster, so fast that it finally sounded like a stampede of wild horses, and (all) of a sudden, in the middle of it, they began singing the Shema Yisroel. [source]

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Photo: Arnold Schoenberg, Rockingham Avenue, LA, 1947/48

Bernhard Lang – Differenz/Wiederholung 1.2 (2002)

Differenz/Wiederholung 1.2 is composed by Bernhard Lang for Flute, Tenor Saxophone and Piano.

Philippe Racine (flute)
Marcus Weiss (tenor saxophone)
Paulo Alvares (piano)

Bernhard Lang (February 24, 1957 in Linz) is an Austrian composer, improvisationalist and programmer of musical patches and applications. His work can be described as modern contemporary music, with roots, however, in various genres such as 20th-century avant-garde, European classical music, jazz, free jazz, rock, punk, techno, EDM, electronica, electronic music and computer-generated music. Bernhard Lang came to prominence with his work cycle “Differenz / Wiederholung” (“difference / repetition”) in which he illuminated and examined the themes of reproductive and DJ cultures based on the philosophic work of Gilles Deleuze.  [source]

dw1 war das erste stück der differenz/wiederholungsserie, in dem ich vom prinzip der vorangehenden schrift-stücke dahingehend abwich, dass ich bestimmte details meiner handschrift virtuell sampelte und loopte; das wiederholungszeichen und die anzahl der wiederholungen wurden mit einem mal beherrschende parameter des stücks. ich versuchte mich hier in einer art phänomenologie der wiederholung. es tauchen hier u.a.
a) mechanische, “tote” wiederholungen
b) differente, gescratchte wiederholungen
c) geschichtete und zeitdifferente wiederholungen als mobiles und kanons
d) und kombinationen von a-c
auf.

dw 1.2 entstand auf anregung von erik drescher als umarbeitung des trios für flöte, cello und klavier zu flöte, saxophon und klavier. aufgrund der teilweise völlig veränderten klanglichkeit wurden alle partien neu konzipiert, das klangmaterial weitgehend umstrukturiert.

bernhard lang, wien, 04.04.2002 Homepage, Bernard Lang

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Rihm and Haas at the Musikfest Berlin

Musikfest Berlin

Seven works by Wolfgang Rihm – among them a world and a German première – will be performed at this year’s Musikfest Berlin.

Keeping with the horn theme of the festival, Georg Friedrich Haas will as well be represented in Berlin with the performance of his concerto grosso No. 1. Find out more on Universal Edition.

Read the full programme of the Musikfest Berlin.

Wolfgang Rihm: Horn Concerto
for horn and orchestra | 20′
prem. 14.09.2014, Kammermusiksaal, Berlin; Stefan Dohr, hn; Mahler Chamber Orchestra, cond. Daniel Harding

Wolfgang Rihm: Trio Concerto
for violin, violoncello, piano and orchestra | 25′
world prem. 17.09.2014, Philharmonie, Berlin; Trio Jean Paul: Ulf Schneider, vln; Martin Löhr, vlc; Eckart Heiligers, pno; WDR SO Köln, cond. Jukka-Pekka Saraste

Georg Friedrich Haas: concerto grosso No. 1
for 4 alphorns and orchestra | 30′
15.09.2014, Philharmonie, Berlin; hornroh; SWR-SO Baden-Baden und Freiburg, cond. François-Xavier Roth

Alexander Scriabin – Sonata No.5 Op.53 (1907)

The Piano Sonata No.5, Op. 53, is  written by Alexander Scriabin in 1907. This was his first sonata to be written in one movement,  a format he retained from then on. A typical performance lasts from 11 to 12 minutes.

“The Fifth Sonata, one of the most frequently played of the composer’s works, owes a great deal to the orchestral Poem of Ecstasy, and for this reason the Sonata is occasionally given that same title. Both draw on a poem by written by Scriabin, of which four lines are affixed to the beginning of the Sonata (a passage which “calls to life” the artist’s “hidden longings,” an example of the composer’s ever-increasing obsession with his own creative powers)…”  [source]

Original Russian text: Я к жизни призываю вас, скрытые стремленья!Вы, утонувшие в темных глубинахДуха творящего, вы, боязливыеЖизни зародыши, вам дерзновенье приношу!

Original French translation: Je vous appelle à la vie, ô forces mysterieuses! Noyées dans les obscures profondeurs De l’esprit créateur, craintivesEbauches de vie, à vous j’apporte l’audace!

English translation: I call you to life, oh mysterious forces! Drowned in the obscure depths Of the creative spirit, timid Shadows of life, to you I bring audacity! [ source]

Sonata No.5 Op.53 played by Glenn Gould :

Sonata No.5 Op.53 played by Vladimir Sofronitsky (live):

Sonata No.5 Op.53 played by Bernd Glemser :

800px-Alexander_Scriabin,_Tatiana_Schloezer_and_Leonid_Sabaneev_on_the_banks_of_the_Oka_RiverAlexander Scriabin, Tatiana Schloezer and Leonid Sabaneev on the banks of the Oka River, 1912.

Hans Rott – Pastoral Prelude for Orchestra in F major (1880)

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Hans Rott (1 August 1858–25 June 1884) was an Austrian composer and organist. His music is little-known today, though he received high praise in his time from the likes of Gustav Mahler and Anton Bruckner. Rott’s mind snapped in October 1880, whilst on a train journey. He was reported to have threatened another passenger with a revolver, claiming that Brahms had filled the train with dynamite. Rott was committed to a mental hospital in 1881, where despite a brief recovery, he sank into depression. By the end of 1883 a diagnosis recorded ‘hallucinatory insanity, persecution mania—recovery no longer to be expected.’ He died of tuberculosis in 1884, aged only 25. Many well-wishers, including Bruckner, attended Rott’s funeral at the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna.


[Inspired by a blog post by Zdenka Pregelj]

Gérard Grisey – Partiels (1975)

grisey

Partiels (1975) is a defining piece of Spectral music by Gérard Grisey whose opening is derived from an electronic sonogram analysis of the attack of a low E2 on a trombone. This spectrum is orchestrally synthesized through the assignation of different instruments to each partial in such a way as to harmonically and gesturally model the dynamic temporal evolution of the attack. Many second and third generation spectral composers cite Partiels as causing their initial interest in the spectral outlook.

Thus the opening features the successive entrance of lower partials with the fifth and ninth partials being louder than lower ones, including the fundamental, and all higher partials gradually trailing off in amplitude. Each partial is approximated to the nearest quarter tone. A low bass reinforces the fundamental an octave lower on the open E1 string which is central to Les Espaces Acoustiques cycle of which Partiels is a part.

The piece also makes use of sum and difference tones to create harmonies.

Robert Ashley – Wolfman (1957-1964)

“This edition introduces us to the most extreme experimental side of the famous American composer. The program starts with ‘The Fox’ (1957), the first electronic music work by Robert Ashley which already displays the future electronic music theatre style. Dark atmospheres and primitive tape collage techniques recorded at home, mixing the electronic tape and the voice in a single ‘live’ pass. The title track, ‘The Wolfman’, was composed in early 1964 and first performed on Charlotte Moorman’s festival of the avant-garde in New York in the fall of the same year, gaining considerable reputation as a threat to the listener’s health. For the occasion instigated by Feldman, Robert Ashley composed a piece of tape music, ‘The Wolfamn Tape’, to be played along with the vocal performance of ‘The Wolfman’. The idea of a tape composition, which is to come out of the same loudspeakers as the voice and the feedback (the main sound source for this composition), is to fill-in the ongoing performance sound and to transform the performance into an elaborate version of the ‘drone’ under the influence of electronics. The choice of what sounds should be on the tape is determined by the need to have the whole range of frequencies brought into the feedback, but to give those sounds a short duration-in other words, a blizzard of very short sounds across the whole frequency range-so that the illusion of the sounds coming from all parts of the room is preserved. For the performance of ‘The Wolfman’ recorded here, produced at the University of California at Davis, Robert Ashley used an earlier (1960) tape composition entitled ‘The 4th of July’. That composition changes gradually from a parabolic-microphone documentation of a backyard party into a layering of tape loops and tape-head feedback. ‘The Wolfman Tape’ (1964) is, as descibed above, a tape composition made for a short performance of ‘The Wolfman’. It uses tape-speed manipulation and mixes of many layers of ‘found’ sounds, both from AM radio and from recordings made using different kinds of microphones. ‘The Bottleman’ was composed in 1960 as music for an experimental film by George Manupelli. The 40 minutes long version preseted here involves contact microphones on a surface that holds a loudspeaker some six feet away. The loudspeaker is broadcasting open-circuit ‘hum’ (at the American standard of approximately 60 hertz). That pitch is raised slightly through tape manipulation and the result is mixed with vocal sounds and other ‘found’ sounds played back at various tape speeds. All compositions previously unreleased. The digipak CD comes with a 12 pages booklet including liner notes written by the composer and the complete score of ‘The Wolfman’, first issued in Source magazine.” [Source]






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Georg Friedrich Haas – In Vain (1st Dark Section) (2002)

Georg Friedrich Haas: In Vain (1st Dark Section)

Georg Friedrich Haas (born 16 August 1953 in Graz, Austria) is an Austrian composer of spectral music. [source]

Composition for 24 Instruments
Album: In Vain
Released on Kairos Records
Composed by: Georg Friedrich Haas
Performed by: Klangforum Wien Ensemble
Conductor: Sylvain Cambreling
Genre: Classical
Style: Avantgarde, Microtonal

This composition has been conceived to be performed in a specific light environment of the concert hall, changing gradually as the movements of the composition unfold. This is the first dark section, after the opening movement in which the lights are gradually turned down signaling a shift in the atmosphere while the instruments abandon equal-tempered tuning and follow the overtone series. The section is primarily comprised of a series of duos (one string instrument and one wind instrument), whose entrances are overlapped and chained together. The duos begin on a unison pitch, but the string instrument immediately slides the pitch up or down by a half step, concurrently overtaking the corresponding woodwind in volume. This section is performed in complete darkness as the performers have memorized the score. As this section reaches its ending the concert hall lightning gradually increases while the piece continues to the next movement.
There are two dark sections on the entire composition while the first (this one) is meant to be played in complete darkness, the second dark section is played in dark while there are strobes of flashing light through its duration.
Dark Sections:
First Dark Section: 5’30″
First Dark Section Ends: 11’02″
Second Dark Section: 42’15″
Strobe Flashes Begin: 48’20″
Second Dark Section Ends: 56’35″

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