Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Robin Ticciati, conductor
Feldman | Stravinsky | Sibelius
“What struck me about these fragments of coloured cloth was how they conveyed an essential atmosphere of their civilisation.” Morton Feldman was inspired to compose “Coptic Light” by the woven Middle Eastern Coptic textiles that he saw in the Louvre in Paris. The Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under Robin Ticciati will bring Feldman’s sound world to life, together with works by Igor Stravinsky and Jean Sibelius.
Morton Feldman’s silent and painfully beautiful universe of sound is made up of seemingly immaterial surfaces, patterns and colours illuminated in the most varied grades of density and extent. His final work for orchestra, “Coptic Light” from 1986, was inspired by the ancient textiles woven by Middle Eastern Copts that the composer had admired in the Louvre in Paris. “An important technical aspect of the composition”, Feldman wrote, “was prompted by Sibelius’ observation that the orchestra differed mainly from the piano in that it has no pedal. With this in mind, I set to work to create an orchestral pedal, continually varying in nuance. This ‘chiaroscuro’ is both the compositional and the instrumental focus of ‘Coptic Light’.” The Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin has put together an ingenious programme together with its Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati in which Feldman’s composition of sonic surfaces is followed by a chance to hear Leonidas Kavakos as the soloist in Igor Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto in D major. This work, that transcends Romantic exuberance and virtuosic showmanship and was composed for Samuel Dushkin, is reminiscent – “though only superficially” (Stravinsky) – of Bach with its “baroque” movement terminology of toccata, aria and capriccio. The fact that the solo part turned out to be quite so ambitious technically was due to its dedicatee, who advised Stravinsky on “how his ideas could best be adapted to the requirements of the violin as a sophisticated concert instrument.” The result is a masterpiece of neoclassicism in an idiom that was consistently Stravinsky’s ideal: “dry, cold, clear and fiery, like an extra dry champagne.” The evening is rounded off with Sibelius’s tone poem “Tapiola”, in which velvety, vibrating string surfaces meet shimmering cascades of woodwind and powerful interventions from the brass.