SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg
- Sunday, 4 September 2011
Highly esteemed as a composer, conductor, conservatory teacher and essayist: the essential traits of Hans Zender are his curiosity and his open mind. In his music he is always raising new questions, challenging the components of an artwork, dissecting and analysing the principles of art and their realization.
For the sequence of works entitled Logos Fragmente for mixed chorus and large orchestra, Zender has drawn upon religious writings by various authors of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. These texts, dating from the early centuries of the Common Era, are distinguished by the powerful images of their ritualistic language. In an interview, Zender has observed that “we live in an information society in which language and technological media play an enormously important role. That makes it easy for us to forget the levels of metaphor and, especially, magic and ritual.” He sees art’s task, above all, as contrasting values from cultures of the distant past with our own disastrously misguided belief in progress. Zender is convinced that only in this way can present-day society survive: “Art – it’s no coincidence that Mnemosyne is the mother of the Muses – at once a utopian plan rushing into the future and the memory of antiquity.”
In Logos Fragmente, Zender investigates the nature of vocal music, the relationship between words and tones. He also questions the unity of a work of art, examines the idea of authorship and, ultimately, the greatly heightened status of the artistic creator prevailing since the advent of the Romantic age’s cult of genius. Each of the nine Logos fragments is differently constituted. Internal cohesion is provided by the scoring, which is the same in every piece, a breathtakingly complex, microtonal harmonic language, and rhythmic principles applied consistently as supra-individual rules in all nine fragments in order to curtail the “arbitrariness of the composing subject” (Zender).
“Perhaps this society is beginning to realize that it needs a conscious and renewable orientation to the powers of concentration and observation in order to restore balance,” wrote Hans Zender a few years ago in an essay. “It also is looking to music, which stimulates and conveys that orientation.” With Logos Fragmente he continues the pursuit of his goal, that of offering new and intense experiences which stir something in the listener and, ideally, lead to “Happy New Ears”, the title of one of Zender’s essay collections.
The SWR Symphony Orchestra of Baden-Baden and Freiburg and Hans Zender have long been associated, and the individual fragments were created in close collaboration with the SWR Vocal Ensemble of Stuttgart. At musikfest berlin all nine Logos Fragmente are being performed together for the first time.
Hans Zender [*1936]
Logos Fragmente [Canto IX)]
for 32 voices and four orchestral groups [2006-10]
Among others based on texts from the Gospel according to John, by Valentinus, from the Gospel according to Thomas-Evangelium and from the Hebrew Collection Pirqe Abot
Fragment II: From the Pirqe Abot: Passion (English)
Fragment III: John 10, 17–18: Warum (German)
Fragment V: Psalm of Valentino: Valentinos (German)
Fragment VIII: John 20, 11–18: Magdalena (German)
Fragment I: John, 1,1–16: Im Anfang (Greek–German)
Fragment VII: John 14, 5–9: Weg (German)
Fragment IV: John 15, 1–6: Weinstock (German)
Fragment VI: From the Gospel according to Thomas (German)
Fragment IX: Apostle 2, 2–4 | Dance Song from the Acta Johannis: Geist (German, Latin)
World Premiere of the complete work
World Premiere of Fragment II, III, IX
Fragment II, III and IX are commissioned by musikfest berlin | Berliner Festspiele and the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg