Berlin-based Orchestras

Konzerthausorchester Berlin / Lothar Zagrosek

Past Dates

Rituel forms the evening’s crowning conclusion. The program’s musical trajectory leads toward it. Boulez composed this work in memory of his colleague and friend Bruno Maderna. Rituel begins like a funeral procession: the ringing of a gong, woodwinds, solo oboe accompanied by a small drum. This striding declamation is answered by gamelan-style blocks of sound, continues onward, is displaced spatially and temporally. Boulez divides his orchestra into eight groups of differing sizes. The solo oboe constitutes the first and smallest one, the brass choir at the rear of the stage the largest. With its performance at musikfest berlin 10, Boulez’s spatial conception for Rituel is realized consequentially in Berlin for the first time.

Two tenacious clichés seem to be indissolubly joined: the vague notion of “musical Impressionism” (regarding Debussy in particular), and that of the harp’s sonority as little more than rustling undulations. “It is a shame that such minor effects are elicited from an instrument as fully developed as the harp. Young composers like Stockhausen and Berio are of the same opinion, and we use the harp in a very different way: as a highly individual, richly sonorous instrument,” wrote Pierre Boulez in 1961. Berio’s Sequenza II was composed in 1963 as a demonstration of the instrument’s sound range, as a passionate plea against clichéd restrictions, as a liberation of harp sonority. In Chemins I, Berio reconceives his harp Sequenza, expanding the sonic sphere of its reflections to include the orchestra. Hans Zender supplements: through their richly differentiated colour schemes, his instrumentations of Debussy’s Préludes for piano dissolve clichés about musical Impressionism. In his Double Concerto, Witold Lutosławski unites the evening’s featured solo instruments. Oboe and harp join now in an interchange with lively orchestral sound fields, becoming the protagonists of a richly contrasting and taut elegy before abandoning themselves in the finale to electrifying rhythmic energy.

Concert Programme

Luciano Berio [1925–2003]
Sequenza II
for harp [1963]

Luciano Berio
Chemins I
for harp and orchestra (su Sequenza II for harp) [1965]

Witold Lutosławski [1913–1994]
Double Concerto for oboe, harp and string orchestra [1979–80]

Claude Debussy [1862–1918] / Hans Zender
Cinq Préludes from the Préludes for piano [1909–1913]
arranged for orchestra by Hans Zender [1991]

Pierre Boulez [born 1925]
Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna
for orchestra in 8 groups [1974/75]

An event of musikfest berlin | Berliner Festspiele in cooperation with the Konzerthaus Berlin