Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin II
Vladimir Jurowski, conductor
Strauss | Saunders | Webern | Beethoven
In their contribution to Musikfest Berlin and like the Concertgebouworkest from Amsterdam at its opening concert, Vladimir Jurowski and his Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin will link Beethoven’s symphonic music with a solo concerto that Rebecca Saunders wrote especially for the exceptional trumpet player Marco Blaauw, “with my many thanks for the exploratory sessions over the last eleven years.” These two works, separated by around 200 years, will be combined with Anton Webern’s and Richard Strauss’ final orchestral works, both written in the 1940s. This combination lends a barely fathomable depth of focus to the concert.
Beethoven as the fixed star: Only four years separate Anton Webern’s Variations op 30 (1941) and the “Metamorphoses” (1945) of Richard Strauss. They are the final orchestra works of these composers, both of them created during the Second World War, within the National Socialists’ sphere of power. And yet they belong to quite different worlds. Strauss is looking at the barbarisation of humanity in disbelief; full of melancholy and with a plea to remember the ruined culture of civil society, he quotes Beethoven’s funeral march from the “Eroica”. Webern’s variations, on the other hand, seem to literally implode. No more than two bars provide the material, which further decreases over the course of the piece. After eight minutes, Webern falls silent. The title of Rebecca Saunders’ work “Alba” (2014) is based on a poem by Samuel Beckett. It is derived from “albus” (white), but here it evokes a total absence of colour rather than lustre. But: “With no shade and no grey, white is exceedingly hot, it is the colour of rage.” (Rebecca Saunders). Like a solar power plant, Beethoven’s fateful symphony provides the irrepressible energy needed to defy all rejection and to continue to keep your gaze fixed firmly on the stars.
Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949)
for 23 solo strings (1944/45)
Rebecca Saunders (*1967)
for trumpet solo and symphony orchestra (2014)
Anton Webern (1883 – 1945)
Variations for Orchestra op. 30 (1940/41)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)
Symphony No. 5 in C minor op. 67 (1803 – 1807/08)