Vladimir Jurowski, conductor
Stravinsky | Hindemith
The Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester and Vladimir Jurowski present an unusual portrait of Stravinsky at the Musikfest Berlin: rarely performed works from the 1920s and the late period, rounded off by the Symphony “Mathis der Maler” by Paul Hindemith, who crossed paths with Stravinsky several times.
Igor Stravinsky and Paul Hindemith met in Berlin in the early 1930s. At that time, Hindemith allayed Stravinsky’s concerns about writing a violin concerto, him not being a violinist. This work was first performed by the RSB in Berlin in 23 October 1931, conducted by Stravinsky himself. In 1940, the two composers once again met in the United States. Stravinsky had left his adopted home of Paris shortly after the start of World War II and moved to the American West Coast; Hindemith, following the controversy surrounding his opera “Mathis der Maler”, after helping to establish a conservatory in Ankara and a stopover in Switzerland, opted for exile on the American East Coast, in Boston, in 1940.
The programme combines works of commemoration and remembrance. Stravinsky composed the short “Symphonies of wind instruments” in honour of Claude Debussy and paid tribute to the deceased by not adapting to his style, but responding to his musical personality with his incomparably edgier diction. He composed the cantata “Abraham and Isaak” for the Israel Festival in 1964, calling it a ballad, because the music was meant to resonate through its narrative style, rather than emotional suggestiveness. He insisted that only the Hebrew text be used for performances, instead of its translation. The European premiere took place a month after the Jerusalem premiere, as part of the 14th Berlin Festival. Stravinsky dedicated the “Variations”, his last purely instrumental work, to the memory of Aldous Huxley, his neighbour in Hollywood with whom he had many much-valued conversations. Huxley died in 1963, followed shortly after by Karl Amadeus Hartmann and Paul Hindemith, whom Stravinsky held in high esteem.
Hindemith wrote his “Mathis” Symphony as preparation for his opera of the same name. Controversy arose around it in 1934, which finally led the composer to leave Germany, at first temporarily, and then permanently. The opera's subject is a reflection of his own life within historical context – that of the artist in times of unrest and upheaval, raising the issue of truthfulness with particular urgency.
Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971)
Symphonies d’instruments à vent (1920)
In honour of Claude Debussy
Abraham and Isaak (1962/63)
A sacred ballad for baritone and chamber orchestra
Dedicated to the people of the State of Israel
Concerto for piano and windinstruments (1923/24)
Variations Aldous Huxley in memoriam(1963/64)
Paul Hindemith (1895 – 1963)
Symphony Mathis der Maler (1934)