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    HomeRussiaStickfight // Thomas Ades and Kirill Petrenko at the Musikfest Berlin

    Stickfight // Thomas Ades and Kirill Petrenko at the Musikfest Berlin

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    The culminating moments of the Musikfest Berlin symphony festival, which ends in the German capital, are traditionally considered to be the performances of the “masters of the field” – the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. They are waiting for these concerts, looking forward to them, stocking up tickets ahead of time and meticulously studying the program. Two concert programs with two different conductors – the British Thomas Ades and the current orchestra chief Kirill Petrenko – equally demonstrated that the “Berliners” still hold the brand of the number one orchestra in the world. But at the same time, the two symphony evenings turned out to be categorically different, as Gular Sadykh-zade was convinced.

    Thomas Ades actually arranged a personal benefit performance: the lion’s share of the evening was taken two of his own compositions, a violin concerto and a suite composed of symphonic excerpts from his opera The Destroying Angel. Ades’ conducting style – catchy, temperamental, energetic, designed for a public effect – differs from Kirill Petrenko’s modest, minimalistic gestures, focused on conveying his intentions to the orchestra as accurately and adequately as possible. And although Ades is not only a composer, but also a conductor from God, his open noisy extraversion in this case played a bad joke on him. The whole concert consisted of noisy, bravura, abusing fortissimo and tutti music. Berlioz, Ades, Gerald Barry (British composer of the older generation) and again Ades – the monotony of orchestral luxury, practically not a single island of peace or silence throughout the evening. Berlioz’s opus – Overture op. 3, written by a young author for the unfinished opera “Secret Judges” (“Les francs-juges”). It began with a deafeningly loud introduction with a fanfare beginning of copper – and then a swift allegro followed, in which a theme suddenly emerged in the most comical way, suspiciously reminiscent of the Russian drawn-out “Because of the island to the rod.”

    As for the opuses of Ades himself, his violin concerto “Concentric Paths” (“Concentric Paths”) turned out to be quite interesting in terms of design and music. In three parts – “Rings”, “Paths” and “Circles” – the figure of rotation, originating from the Baroque theory of affects, is textured. In the second, slow part, the intricate twists of the melodic line of the solo violin plunged into a meditatively detached state. The solo part was skillfully performed by the Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto, supplementing his performance with an encore, a piece for solo violin that imitates folk instrumental tunes. theme of the festival, turning to the music of Janis Xenakis, whose centenary is being celebrated this year. One of the most conceptual composers of the 20th century, who opened up new horizons for orchestral sound, a representative of the Darmstadt School, he reformatted the very concept of symphonic music, introducing spatial and sound parameters into it. With the help of mathematical methods, “believing harmony by algebra”, Xenakis creates a breathing, vibrating sound continuum, static, but at the same time internally mobile and plastic; it is no coincidence that his opuses are often called “sound sculptures.”

    Xenakis’ Empreintes for large orchestra lasts ten minutes and opens with brass fanfare on one rhythmic formula and one sound. Fluctuations of French horns and trombones against the background of flowing glissandos of strings create the feeling of an unsteady foggy stream, outwardly static, but inside it there are fascinating sound events at the micro level. All this was performed by the musicians of the orchestra absolutely brilliantly, with enthusiasm and full awareness of the value of the music performed.

    Followed by the tragic Symphony of Bernd Alois Zimmermann, a German composer whose active years fell on the same post-war period . Zimmerman as a creative person was formed during the tragic break of the era and the country. He was born just before the establishment of the Weimar Republic, in 1918, survived the war and the post-war eradication of collective guilt (which he never reconciled to). Perhaps this explains his depression and a pessimistic view of himself and the new world order, which eventually led him to suicide. the collapse of values: faith, patriotism, the feeling of being right. Everything that was considered right turned out to be defamed and meaningless. The collective unconscious, deprived of support, plunged into darkness, into timelessness: there is nothing to grab onto, nothing to lean on. In the symphony, this twilight flavor, the despair of a personality suddenly orphaned, having lost the meaning of being, finds an expressive embodiment: a quick change of moods, short, quickly flashing and just as quickly fading climaxes, fragments of thematic formations intoned by the lowest strings – double basses – supported by a mute tuba , the periodically appearing rhythm of a measured mournful step.

    The main event of the evening was the concert performance of Luigi Dallapiccola’s one-act opera The Prisoner, written in a strictly dodecaphone technique, based on three serial series. The composer, who belongs to the same second wave of the post-war avant-garde as Xenakis and Zimmerman, raises in it topics that are extremely relevant today: freedom and lack of freedom, hope and despair, manipulation of a person in conditions of lack of freedom … The most terrible torture invented by the Grand Inquisitor is torture hope.

    Opera Prisoner undoubtedly has signs of passion: an orchestra, soloists and a huge choir (Berlin Radio Choir), which passionately, ecstatically appeals to the Almighty, begging him for help and mercy. “Misericordia”, “mercy” is the key word that is spoken most often.

    Direct references to Verdi’s Don Carlos and his Il trovatore are recognized. But Dallapiccola’s opera evokes most of all associations with Beethoven’s Fidelio: both Florestan and the Prisoner suffer from darkness and uncertainty. “Gott! Welch Dunkel hier,” sings Florestan, almost distraught with fear and loneliness. Almost the same words are spoken by the Prisoner: “It’s so dark in here!” In this musical image of the dungeon there is an undoubted commonality with the famous “Prisons” by Piranesi, the motives of which so often echo the scenography of opera performances of the Enlightenment. The most terrible thing in such dungeons is precisely the unknowability, irrationality, inexplicability of Evil.

    It is amazing how much the past concert resonated with the events that took place literally on the same days; Here is an example of how art not only reflects, but also anticipates real events. And at the same time it reflects, tries to realize, to build in the rapidly changing picture of the world important patterns, global pains and problems that are now worrying every person on earth. Kirill Petrenko turned out to be an ideal conductor not only in the literal sense – as a wonderful outstanding conductor, but also as an involuntary resonator of higher forces that have set in motion and are reformatting our familiar world right before our eyes.

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