MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Benefit Concert for Earthquake Victims

Students and alumni of the Barenboim-Said Akademie, among whom are a number of musicians from Türkiye and Syria, initiated a benefit concert to be held on Monday, February 20, 7.30pm in collaboration with the Pierre Boulez Saal. Focusing on the theme “2Home,” the concert will contribute to efforts aiding those affected by the massive earthquake in these two countries.

The program includes works of Western classical music as well as compositions from the Middle East, especially from Türkiye and Syria.perform at the Pierre Boulez Saal on February 20.

In addition to the concert at the Pierre Boulez Saal on Monday, February 20, there will be three smaller concerts in the foyer of the Barenboim-Said Akademie on February 16, 17, and 18, each at 4pm. Admission to the foyer concerts is free; donations are welcome. Proceeds from all four concerts will go to the Earthquake Relief Fund of the German Red Cross. Call +49 30 4799 7411 for tickets.

more info

Filed under: music news, Pierre Boulez Saal

West-Eastern Divan Ensemble Tonight in Berlin

Here’s a video of the West-Eastern Divan Ensemble performing Mendelssohn’s Octet at Boulez-Saal in 2021.

On the agenda at the Boulez-Saal in Berlin tonight is this program by the West-Eastern Divan Ensemble. It’s an interesting mix of Jörg Widmann, Dvořák, Hindemith, and Enescu. My program notes here.

Filed under: chamber music, Pierre Boulez Saal

Schubert Week from Berlin

The Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin just completed its customary January week devoted to Schubert’s art song, with Thomas Hampson as guide and mentor.

The entire week’s worth of daily concerts, workshops, and conversations, which was streamed live from the hall, remains available online for another 30 days. The digital format also includes extended behind-the-scenes content on the songs and poems as well as interviews with some of the artists.

see the links to streams below on this page

Filed under: lieder, Pierre Boulez Saal, Schubert

Music of Luca Francesconi at Boulez Saal

Luca Francesconi

Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin continues to buzz with a remarkably varied program of events — including this chamber concert by the Boulez Ensemble directed by Daniel Barenboim. Along with pieces by Beethoven and Schumann, the program offers a chamber-cameo of the fascinating composer Luca Francesconi.

Across the street over at the Staatsoper, Francesconi’s much-produced opera Quartett — based on Heiner Müller’s deconstruction of Les liaisons dangereuses — is at last getting its Berlin premiere. I well remember the US premiere production at the 2017 Spoleto Festival, which I covered for Musical America and Opera Now. And before the pandemic intervened, Francesconi’s new opera Timon of Athens was scheduled to be premiered at the Bayerische Staatsoper.

I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing Francesconi and writing about his work for the Boulez Saal program book.

The video above is from an interview last year, when Barenboim premiered Daedalus, a work newly commissioned for Boulez Saal.

Filed under: Daniel Barenboim, new music, Pierre Boulez Saal

Giora Feidman Trio: The Spirit of Klezmer

Tonight Giora Feidman makes his long-awaited debut at Boulez Saal in Berlin — in his Trio formation, with friends Enrique Ugarte and Guido Jäger. Some background in my program essay here.

Filed under: klezmer, Pierre Boulez Saal

Boulez Saal: Season Opener

More signs of musical life returning: on Tuesday evening at Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin, Daniel Barenboim leads the Boulez Ensemble in the opening concert of the season: music by Schubert, Mozart, Berg, and Jörg Widmann, who also plays clarinet with the Ensemble. Widmann’s wild, far-ranging, at times terrifying new work Labyrinth IV — a continuation of his ongoing Labyrinth series, commissioned and premiered last year by Barenboim and the Boulez Ensemble, is the culminating work.

That premiere took place in June 2019, when Sir Peter Jonas and Daniel Barenboim curated the program celebrating the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung’s (WZB) 50th anniversary at the Pierre Boulez Saal. Jonas had been closely associated with the WZB and the Pierre Boulez Saal for many years.

The opening concert is dedicated to the memory of Sir Peter Jonas, who died this year on 22 April at the age of 73.

My program commentary can be found here.

Filed under: Pierre Boulez Saal

Interview with Olga Neuwirth

Here’s a new interview with Olga Neuwirth conducted by Boulez Saal’s Philipp Brieler, discussing Pierre Boulez and Neuwirth’s new piece Naufraghi del mondo que hanno ancora un cuore — one of the new works premiered on Saturday’s program. The entire Festival of New Music: Distance/Intimacy is being streamed live and then archived for 30 days. You can find this program here (Neuwirth’s piece begins at 55:00).

Filed under: COVID-19 Era, new music, Olga Neuwirth, Pierre Boulez, Pierre Boulez Saal

A Festival of New Music from Boulez Saal in Berlin

Starting today, Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin is presenting a four-day Festival of New Music, which will juxtapose online premieres with works by the hall’s namesake.

Curated by Daniel Barenboim and Emmanuel Pahud, the programs — presented in the the Frank Gehry-designed space — are being streamed on the Boulez-Saal Facebook page as well as on its YouTube channel. These programs will then remain available, free on-demand, for 30 days.

Filed under: Daniel Barenboim, new music, Pierre Boulez, Pierre Boulez Saal

The Sublime Galina Ustvolskaya

I’ve been working on notes for an all-Ustvolskaya program at Boulez Saal in Berlin by the Boulez Ensemble (which will likely end up being cancelled, alas). But I’m grateful to be immersed in this world.

Concerning the religious implications of the title Composition No. 1: Dona nobis pacem from 1970-71, Semyon Bokman writes:

The large-scale movement toward religion was not, however, a discovery of faith, at least for the majority. It was an expression of protest, freedom of thought, disagreement with the system and the rule of Soviet ideology. Ustvolskaya’s spiritual works, apart from her special connection with God, are an expression of inner protest. (The score of the composition “Dona nobis pacem,” for example, could not be published with such a subtitle.) They are a challenge to the system, a reaction to oppression. Such art could appear only under the conditions of the Soviet Union. Imagine an American composer who write spiritual music. (It does not matter whether it is religious or not.) Would it be a sensation?

Filed under: Galina Ustvolskaya, Pierre Boulez Saal

Guy Braunstein and Martha Argerich

Tonight at Pierre Boulez Saal, Guy Braunstein and Martha Argerich perform a sold-out program of Schumann, Prokofiev, and Franck. My program essay is available here. (It’s their first time collaborating as a duo, so the clip above is of Argerich with Gidon Kremer — not exactly a bad compromise — in Schumann’s A minor Violin Sonata.)

Filed under: César Franck, Martha Argerich, Pierre Boulez Saal, Prokofiev, Schumann

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