Elliott Carter – Dialogues for solo piano and 18 instruments (2004)

Dialogues for piano and chamber orchestra was a BBC Radio 3 commission for the brilliant young British pianist Nicolas Hodges and is scored for piano solo and a chamber orchestra comprising 18 instruments. Carter writes that “Dialogues is a conversation between the soloist and the orchestra: responding to each other, sometimes interrupting one another or arguing.”

Elliott Carter: “Dialogues” (2004) for solo piano and 18 instruments. David Swan – piano, New Music Concerts Ensemble







***Performance by Daniel Barenboim in Berlin, October 15, 2012. More information here.***

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Alban Berg – Lulu (1937)

She seduces, she kills, she winds up a prostitute and gets murdered by Jack the Ripper. Greed-filled, lusty Lulu is the 20th century’s greatest opera.

I was 14 and in hospital with an appendicitis that had turned into peritonitis. The BBC was broadcasting a piece of opera history – the first ever performance of Alban Berg’s Lulu in its entirety. It was 24 February 1979, and I watched as much as I could. Even though I was feeling terribly ill, the opera made an unforgettable impact on me. Some youthful enthusiasms diminish over time. Lulu never has. It has grown richer and stranger over the years.

The premiere took place at the Opéra Garnier in Paris, and the BBC put it out on prime-time TV; things have certainly changed in the last 30 years. What strikes everyone, on first viewing, is the apparently tawdry quality of Lulu’s subject matter compared with the sumptuous beauty of the score. Lulu is a woman of limitless sexual allure, who takes one man after another, rising in the social scale while killing them or driving them to suicide in turn. She is arrested for the murder of one husband, Doctor Schön, and so begins her descent. By the end, she is prostituting herself in a London garret; her last client is Jack the Ripper, who murders her and her lesbian lover, Countess Geschwitz.

Thirty years on, Berg’s opera seems an indisputable candidate for the greatest opera of the 20th century. But that 1979 performance of the three-act Lulu came 44 years after Berg died, apparently from blood poisoning caused by an insect bite. After the composer’s death, the work was regarded as a decadent oddity – perverse, bizarre and, most importantly, unfinished. The long delay in the work being given a proper performance was a catastrophe for 20th-century music. [Source]



Read the German reviews of the performace at the Berliner Festtage 2012 here, here and here.

There are still tickets for the last three of five performances in Berlin here.

Berlin Philharmonic visits Oxford

May Day this year will see Oxford welcoming one of the world’s greatest orchestras.

The Berlin Philharmonic will perform under the baton of frequent guest conductor Daniel Barenboim in a special one off concert at the Sheldonian.

Each year the orchestra selects a venue of cultural importance in a different European city for a televised performance to mark its founding in 1882. The programme for this year’s concert will include a combination of classic Berliner repertoire by Wagner and Brahms, and a nod to Oxford’s musical heritage in the form of the Elgar Cello Concerto, made famous by Oxford-raised cellist, and one-time wife of Barenboim’s, Jaqueline Du Prè.

The announcement has been met with excitement. “I’m so thrilled that an ensemble of this calibre should come to Oxford” said Alice Beckwith, a music student at Lincoln. “The world’s greatest orchestra with a truly great musician at the helm. I can’t wait.”

However, students wishing to see the concert may well be left disappointed, as tickets sold out a matter of hours after going on sale.

[via cherwell.org]