Opening Concert / Visiting : Amsterdam
François-Xavier Roth, conductor
Beethoven | Rihm | Saunders
The Musikfest’s opening concert will turn the Philharmonie into a place of encounters: On the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birthday, his music will be juxtaposed with contemporary composers. The Concertgebouworkest with François-Xavier Roth and Pekka Kuuisto will combine Beethoven’s “Eroica” with compositions by Rebecca Saunders and Wolfgang Rihm.
The Concertgebouworkest and Musikfest Berlin enjoy an especially close connection. It reaches far back into the times of the previous festival, Berliner Festwochen. What was one of several cultural initiatives towards the consolidation of peace in Europe in 1963, has developed into a firm partnership over many years of steady cooperation. In the festival’s opening concert, the guests from Amsterdam will reveal the main constellation that will create the special suspense of the 2020 Musikfest Berlin: Beethoven and the music of our times, with a special focus on the works of Rebecca Saunders and Wolfgang Rihm. All genres, from piano pieces to great orchestra works, will find a place within this magnetic field. Beginning the festival with Beethoven’s music was a programmatic decision: The opening features the overture and the symphony in which the composer’s “sound of humanity” gained its profile and its strength – and found unprecedented forms without renouncing its close reference to tradition. Through this grand idea, his musical language formed in all its details and ramifications: Beethoven’s orchestral works are just as convincing when seen as an “address to the nation” as in their nature of a precise analysis of internal organisation of sound.
Such introspection is also undertaken by Wolfgang Rihm and Rebecca Saunders. “Sostenuto”, sustained, is a term for musical expression that is frequently found in Beethoven’s music. On a modern grand piano, the “sostenuto pedal” is the middle one, which only allows those notes to be prolonged that are played by pressing it. Wolfgang Rihm translates this sound phenomenon into the language of the orchestra. Rebecca Saunders’ violin concerto “Still” was inspired by a late work by Samuel Beckett. “’Still’ explores two starkly contrasting conditions which are in a state of balance. ‘Still’, German for silent, refers to the framing of sounds by silence, an imaginary silence that is waiting to become audible” (Rebecca Saunders) – either gently or eruptive.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)
Leonore Overture No. 3 op. 72b (1806)
Wolfgang Rihm (*1952)
Commissioned by Concertgebouworkest
Rebecca Saunders (*1967)
for violin solo and orchestra (2011)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major op. 55 “Eroica” (1802/03)