Bayerisches Staatsorchester / Kent Nagano
- Tuesday, 14 September 2010
Contrasts remain unresolved, questions are left unanswered. But history necessarily surfaces, if only via the piano concerto as a genre. Is virtuosity opposed to or in accord with the orchestra? That is the question here. Berio does not resolve it, but instead converts it into the work’s substance. “The Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra evolves a flexible, multidimensional, and highly unstable relationship between soloists and orchestra and between soloists. I perceive in this work a journey through a multitude of instrumental sections and relationships, a variety of functions and activities.”
In Strauss’s Metamorphoses, the act of reminiscence takes on musical dimensions. Appearing at the conclusion is the theme around which this multivoiced marvel revolves, and which has shimmered through the music repeatedly as a presentiment. Reappearing now, buried in the depths, its metamorphoses are behind it. With his back to the future: how else for a composer to present beauty in the year 1945, even in black crepe?
In Stravinsky’s Petrushka, his second score for the Russian ballet, boundary lines are blurred despite sharply contoured details. Which is reality, which fiction? Does the vanquished protagonist triumph after death as a ghost? The music passes through multiple levels, including citations from folk songs, piercing fanfares, flinty rhythms, sweetish harmonies. Petrushka too, this enigmatic burlesque, is a transitional work. It makes its way through a range of emotional and material conditions and styles. They are traversed. But never dissipated. The contrasts remain.
Luciano Berio [1925–2003]
for 2 pianos and orchestra [1972/73]
Richard Strauss [1864–1949]
study for 23 solo strings op. 142 
Igor Stravinsky [1882–1971]
Burlesque scenes in four parts [1910/11, rev. 1947]
I. The Shrovetide Fair – II. Petrushka’s Cell
III. The Moor’s Room – IV. The Shrovetide Fair
in concerto form