Berliner Philharmoniker

Igor Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky

Image: Bain News Service © Wikimedia Commons

Past Dates

Work introduction:
THU 13 and FRI 14 Sep 2018, 19:00
SAT 15 Sep 2018, 18:00

The 20th century is history. Many elements that appeared highly disparate at the time now seem closer in retrospect. The Berlin Philharmonic’s programme with François-Xavier Roth illustrates this with impressive clarity. It focuses on the era of film, an art form that was a medium of visionary suggestion and abstract expression. Music not only reinforced the virtual reality represented in visual form, it also gave it a logic, grammar and effectiveness. In his Images Claude Debussy created vibrant acoustic images, stylized versions of old England, Spanish streets, night and party scenes and imagined spring round dances with hints of children playing. “What is special about the music of this piece is that it is immaterial and as a result you cannot treat it like a robust symphony that can walk on all four legs (only three so far, but it is still marching). I am also more and more convinced that by its very nature music is not something that can be moulded into a strict and traditional form. It consists of colours and rhythmic time.” (Debussy). Stanley Kubrick’s use of György Ligeti’s Atmosphères for his film 2001 A Space Odyssey is linked to this music’s ethereal flow with the way it telescopically increases acoustic visibility – in a manner similar to Lontano. The second part of the programme takes us to the heart of the territory where music is strongest: to suggestion.

The works in the first part show a different side of the 20th century, neoclassicism as an approach to history. Stravinsky wrote his Symphonies d’instruments à vent in memory of Claude Debussy. Stravinsky himself regarded their performance with considerable scepticism as these symphonies contained nothing that could be associated with the originator of the revolutionary Rite of Spring. There were no passionate passages or dynamic outbursts: instead there was a quasi-ceremonial series of cantilenas, short litanies and combinations of instruments in dialogues and psalmodies evocative of liturgies. Bernd Alois Zimmermann developed his Violin Concerto from a planned orchestral Sonata for Violin and Piano written in the same year. In reworking it he extended the middle movement, making this the central piece also in terms of meaning. Zimmermann’s inclusion of ‘dies irae’ quotations and a rumba finale suggests a “setting in life” for his first work that he allows to resonate.

Igor Strawinsky [1882–1971]
Symphonies d`instruments à vent [version from 1947]
À la mémoire de Claude Achille Debussy

Bernd Alois Zimmermann [1918–1970]
concert for violin and grand orchestra [1950]

Claude Debussy [1862-1918]
Images for orchestra [1905–1912]
1. Gigues [1909-1912]

György Ligeti [1923-2006]
Lontano for grand orchestra [1967]

Claude Debussy
Images for orchestra
3. Rondes de printemps [1905-1909]

György Ligeti
Atmosphères for orchestra [1961]

Claude Debussy
Images for orchestra
2. Ibéria [1905-1908]

A Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation event in cooperation with Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin