Berlin-based Orchestras

Konzerthausorchester Berlin / Lothar Zagrosek

Past Dates

Dark times and gloomy topics form the background to which the music applies its glowing script, thereby breaking, if not banishing the darkness. The basic colour of Leos Janáček’s Paternoster-composition is already shifted into lightness by means of its instrumentation: solo tenor, harp and organ. The music sounds like an infinite variation of the first plea: »Thy kingdom come …«. Yet it should not appear in the foreign tongue of the Western church, but rather in the composer’s own – stylised into sublimity: Church Slavonic. God should be a god of liberty – the liberty to one’s own identity.

Looked at in this way Francis Poulenc’s choral cantata Figure humaine (the human countenance) would also be a religious work – even though the name of God is not mentioned. The composition is based on poems by Paul Eluard, written and distributed illegally by him during the Resistance. In the course of the composition it seems as if the music lifts the poetry out of its view of suffering, agony and cruelty; as if it raises its head and voice up to that 21-verse call – at the end of which stands the salvational word: »Liberté«. The darkness of time transforms itself into a shelter for the partisans of humanity.

Leos Janáček composed his last opera based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The House of the Dead. It is a penal camp, one of those institutions that the totalitarian century took over from the times of dynastic autocracy and perfected into a hell on earth. Partly, the opera erases the wish for a heaven on earth; partly, it militantly allows this wish to shine anew.

Nekuia stands for a magical rite, in which the spirits of the dead are invoked and questioned about the future. Iannis Xenakis gave his composition for voices and instruments a plastic shape; he created an architecture in time, the inside of which is invigorated by melodies, both instrumental and word-borne, that wander through the sound space, transforming themselves, changing, drawing distinct lines or shrouding themselves in a sounding mist. They keep within themselves the memory of singing – the elementary and individual basis of music. On the boundaries of experience, human dignity is on trial.

Concert Programme

Leoš Janáček [1854-1928]
for tenor, choir, harp and organ [1901/06]

Francis Poulenc [1899–1963]
Figure humaine
Cantata on a text by Paul Eluard [1943]
for mixed double choir

Leoš Janáček
From the House of Dead [1925–27]
Orchestra suite from the opera of the same name
arranged by Harold Byrns

Iannis Xenakis [1922–2001]
for mixed choir and orchestra [1981]
based on texts by Jean Paul and Françoise Xenakis


Joachim Dalitz organ
Maria Graf harp
Algirdas Janutas tenor

Latvian Radio Choir and State Choir of the Republic of Latvia »Latvija«
Sigvards Klava choir director

Konzerthausorchester Berlin
Lothar Zagrosek conductor

A joint event of musikfest berlin | Berliner Festspiele and Konzerthaus Berlin