Berlin-based orchestras / Arnold Schönberg / Gustav Mahler

Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin

Archangel Gabriel

Jacob’s ladder, front of the Bath Abbey

Jacob’s ladder, front of the Bath Abbey

© Wikimedia Commons

  • Duration 2h 15, one interval

Past Dates

18:55 work introduction

If Schönberg is to be taken at his word, his journey into modernity was a search for God: “I have long been wanting to write an oratorio” he stated as early as 1912, “the content of which is to be about how a person of today, who has traversed materialism, socialism, anarchy, who was an atheist but who has preserved a last smidgeon of the old faith, finally arrives at finding God and becoming religious. Learning to pray!” Despite a lifelong struggle, the “Jakobsleiter” (Jacob’s Ladder) remained a fragment – leaving the interpreter with the exciting decision of understanding the story of Jacob’s battle with the angel as a testimony of life or of faith. Unlike this composition, which was initiated for soloists, choir and a Mahler-style large orchestra, Iannis Xenakis’ “Shaar” (gateway) – whose Hebrew title alludes to mythical ideas of taking up contact with the afterworld – gets by with only a string orchestra. With his incredibly concentrated sounds he creates effects with a breath-taking archaic force that tap into a new dimension of our vision of modernity. Between the creed captured in the music of the “Jakobsleiter” and the archaism of “Shaar” are Gustav Mahler’s “Kindertotenlieder”, which musically express the unfathomable.

Iannis Xenakis [1922–2001]
for large string orchestra [1983]

Gustav Mahler [1860–1911]
for mezzo soprano and orchestra [1901–1904]

Arnold Schönberg [1874–1951]
Die Jakobsleiter (fragment)
Oratorio for solo voices, mixed choir and orchestra [1915-1922]

Solo voices

Wiebke Lehmkuhl alto

Die Jakobsleiter:
Thomas E. Bauer baritone (Gabriel)
Daniel Behle tenor (Ein Berufener)
Matthias Wohlbrecht tenor (Ein Aufrührerischer)
Adrian Eröd baritone (Ein Ringender)
Boaz Daniel baritone (Der Auserwählte)
Gerhard Siegel tenor (Der Mönch)
Edda Moser soprano (Der Sterbende)
Yeree Suh soprano (Die Seele)
Alexandra Steiner soprano (2. Seele)
Choir soloists:
Anne Bretschneider soprano
Isabelle Voßkühler soprano
Christoph Leonhardt tenor
Holger Marks tenor

Rundfunkchor Berlin
Anne Kohler coach
Gijs Leenaars chief conductor
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Ingo Metzmacher conductor

A joint production and event by Berliner Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
funded by means of the Capital Cultural Fund