Music and space, music in space, space music – this is the point of view from which the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle illuminate Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The spatial aspect of the composition is emphasised by performing György Kurtág’s murky space and echo music “Grabstein für Stephan” and Helmut Lachenmann’s large-scale orchestral piece “Tableau”.
Grabstein für Stephan
Tableau for orchestra
Symphony No. 9 in D minor
Sally Matthews Soprano, Bernarda Fink Contralto, Christian Elsner Tenor, Hanno Müller-Brachmann Bariton, Rundfunkchor Berlin
33 to 94 €
Since Claudio Abbado conducted Grabstein für Stephan in the version for large orchestra in December 1993, the Berliner Philharmoniker has felt closely connected to György Kurtág, who together with Bartók and Ligeti constitutes the trinity of modern Hungarian music. The piece is a murky space and echo music that Kurtág dedicated to his late friend Stephan Stein, a tombeau for guitar and instrumental groups distributed around the room, one that circles around the past. At the end there is a brass tone that resonates for a long time, “the most beautiful and lowest brass sound in the ensemble, maybe a singing voice/can also come from the auditorium,” as Kurtág remarked in the score.
In this concert with Sir Simon Rattle, Kurtág’s Grabstein für Stephan precedes Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, a work that expresses the humanitarian concept of idealism in sound like none other in music history. (The soloists are Sally Matthews, Bernarda Fink, Christian Elsner and Hanno Müller-Brachmann; the Rundfunkchor Berlin will sing.) The spatial sound illusion composed by Beethoven in the Finale of a march that is slowly approaching – the music symbolises the purposeful development towards humanisation in Enlightenment terms – even moved Gustav Mahler to have the passage played by an off-stage orchestra.
The programme positions Helmut Lachenmann’s large-scale orchestral piece Tableau between the two works, another piece of “room music” that develops a specific “corporeality of the sound objects” (Lachenmann) so that the music assumes a more or less haptic character.