Musical notes from Berlin | Music | DW | 21.04.2021
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Festival Concerts

Musical notes from Berlin

In this edition of Concert Hour, we listen to conductor Vladimir Jurowski who began his show in the Berlin festival last September with a palette of composers from Anton Webern to Alban Berg and Alfred Schnittke. 

Listen to audio 54:59

Concert Hour Part One: Musical notes from Berlin

Your ticket to the German classical music festival scene: Concert Hour has the picks of the season — two hours of music updated regularly. Along with host Rick Fulker, the musicians themselves are on hand to give their insights into the events and the music.

Part one

Listen to audio 54:59

Concert Hour : Musical notes from Berlin, part two

Known as a virtuoso concert program architect, conductor Vladimir Jurowski opened the show by designing a musical time machine propelled by Webern, Berg and Schnittke. 

Composer Anton Webern explained his rationale for adapting a ricercar  an elaborate composition popular in the late Baroque and early Renaissance periods  from Bach's "A Musical Offering" for orchestra. "In my instrumentation, I want to show how the motifs are connected. And beyond that, of course, this hints at how I perceive the character of this piece,he said. 

Composed in 1940 and not quite ten minutes long, the second piece of music in this edition is Webern's opus 30 Orchestral Variations, a dense and rich cosmos of reductionas conductor Vladimir Jurowski describes it. "While at work on it, Webern wrote a letter saying it was twenty minutes long. And the piece already existed! So this is essentially twenty of minutes of content packed into ten minutes of music – and every miniscule event is of cosmic importance. 

The third piece is an abridged version of Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck, where we hear Marie, the main female character, in three emotional states: euphoria; then recognizing her vulnerability, and finally, desperation. "Could this intensity leave anyone cold?" asks Anne Schwanewilms, the soprano playing the character. "I had tears in my eyes." 

 

Johann Sebastian Bach/Anton Webern   

Fugue in six voices from A Musical Offering

 

Anton Webern   

Orchestral variations, op. 30

 

Alban Berg   

Three fragments from the opera Wozzeck for soprano, children's chorus and orchestra, op. 7

Conductor Vladimir Jurowski

Conductor Vladimir Jurowski

 

Performed by: 

Anne Schwanewilms, soprano  

Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra   

Vladimir Jurowski, conductor  

Recorded by Deutschlandfunk Kultur, Berlin (DLF) in the Berlin Philharmonie on September 5, 2020

 

Ludwig van Beethoven   

  • Three Equals for four trombones, WoO 30     

  • Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, op. 67, first movement    

Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  

 

Performed by: 

Vladimir Jurowski, conductor   

Recorded by Deutschlandfunk Kultur, Berlin (DLF) in the Berlin Philharmonie on September 11, 2020  

 

Rebroadcasting rights: one broadcast before December 20, 2021 

 

Watch video 04:13

Berlin, city of music, goes online

 

Part two

In this part, we move from 1970s Soviet music by Alfred Schnittke to an unusual version of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. 

Alfred Schnittke wrote music for films and theater plays – and then recycled that material into very unique pieces that he called "polystylistic" and that gave him a reputation for being a musical architect. In his Concerto Grosso No. 1 of 1978, Schnittke stages a clash of the centuries, as the piece leaps through time in an array of styles. "Schnittke doesn't quote melodies," says Vladimir Jurowski. "He quotes styles — and wraps them in a layer of irony. With Schnittke you never know: Does he mean it seriously or is this some kind of ironic exaggeration?"

What makes the performance of Beethoven's Fifth on this program unusual? "We're playing the third movement in its original form," says Vladimir Jurowski"This is not how we're used to hearing it. For the world premiere, Beethoven shortened it. He was afraid that the musicians wouldn't be able to manage the many repetitions. And it's been performed in the truncated form ever since. This symphony is magnificent because the most important things in it happen in the third and fourth movements. Of course, the first movement is strong, but it's only the kernel. You can only appreciate the true development if you hear the third and fourth movements in their original length of nearly twenty minutes." 

 

Alfred Schnittke   

Concerto grosso No. 1 for two violins, prepared piano and chamber orchestra

Performed by: 

Erez Ofer, violin  

Nadine Contini, violin  

Helen Collyer, harpsichord and piano  

Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra   

Vladimir Jurowski, conductor  

Recorded by Deutschlandfunk Kultur, Berlin (DLF) in the Berlin Philharmonie on September 5, 2020

 

Ludwig van Beethoven   

Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, op. 67, 3rd and 4th movements

 

Performed by: 

Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra   

Vladimir Jurowski, conductor   

Recorded by Deutschlandfunk Kultur, Berlin (DLF) in the Berlin Philharmonie on September 11, 2020  

 

Rebroadcasting rights: one broadcast before December 20, 2021

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