Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin / Marek Janowski
Folk Songs II
Music is an abstract art. It neither describes nor narrates. And when it occasionally does so, it nonetheless remains at the level of “as if.” The consequence? It remains objective – not unlike Stravinsky. Agon is an abstract ballet without a plot: pure movement, guided and prescribed by the music. Still, it is concerned with something primordially human, with a variety of manifestations of contestation. These are concentrated in the musical score so clearly that it becomes possible to take it to a second level of abstraction – to perform the piece without any scenic action at all.
Luciano Berio’s Voci are songs without words, now embedded into the spatial contexts of two ensembles. Songs of work and of love, lullabies, which is to say: folk songs collected by Berio in Sicily, and transferred to the viola, to the sphere of instrumental song. Detached now from words, textual meaning, and the human voice, these melodies acquire a new body, that of the orchestra and solo viola.
Strauss’s Suite Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme owes its existence to a quite common form of abstraction: pieces of stage music are extracted from dramatic or comedic contexts and arranged for use in the concert hall. Within Strauss’s oeuvre, Op. 60 is an unparalleled “as if”: here, the composer slips into a Baroque costume, while of course nonetheless remaining Richard Strauss – but this time, as a quick change artist.