London Philharmonic Orchestra / Vladimir Jurowski
- Monday, 6 September 2010
A final work, a first work, and one that leaps genre boundaries. The gauging of the sound world commences with Webern’s Opus 1. In this work, this composer – regarded by many around the mid 20th century as the absolute standard of musical progress – hazards the step into artistic autonomy. In the deepest sense, the Passacaglia is an adaptation – not a rearrangement of some older work, but a distillation of tradition. Webern here resembles Walter Benjamin’s angel of history: he moves into the future, but with his gaze turned toward the past.
In the final work, this orientation seems quite natural. Like his Sinfonia, Berio’s Stanze (whose premiere the composer did not live to see) has five movements. As so often in his oeuvre, he draws upon the stylized word in a music of “burning expressive power” (Gerhard Rohde). Here, the choice of poets is tantamount to a bequest: for the framing movements, Paul Celan and Dan Pagis, poets from Bukovina who survived the Holocaust; for the inner layer, the well-nigh musician Giorgio Caproni and musician Alfred Brendel, who speak from the distance of parting and of irony; for the central movement, Edoardo Sanguineti, with his enigmatic and dense reflections on the Last Things.
Chronologically, Sergei Prokofiev stands in between. His Third Symphony was based on operatic material. The themes, motifs, and passages from the Fiery Angel are reenvisioned, reordered, rearranged. The interchange between the world of the theatre and the concert stage, the use of collage and montage as resources for shaping artistic material: all of these ideas and procedures were of signal importance to Luciano Berio: here, we find them in a state of preformation in the aesthetic of the late 1920s.
Anton Webern [1883–1945]
for orchestra op. 1 
Luciano Berio [1925–2003]
for baritone, 3 male choirs and orchestra 
on poems by Edoardo Sanguinetti, Dan Pagis, Paul Celan, Giorgio Caproni and Alfred Brendel
Sergei Prokofjev [1891–1953]
Andante from the piano sonata No. 4
for orchestra op. 29a 
Symphony No. 3 in C minor op. 44