In this concert, the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, which with its innovative programming, sophisticated sound culture and lively interpretations is one of the most renowned chamber music ensembles in Germany, celebrates its 35th anniversary. The evening opens with the impressive octet for mixed chamber ensemble written by the Philharmoniker’s Composer in Residence George Benjamin when he was 18: “I began the sketches a few months after I finished studying under Olivier Messiaen” (Benjamin).
This is followed by Arnold Schoenberg’s Second String Quartet whose fourth movement features a vocal part (sung here by the Israeli soprano Rinnat Moriah) which includes Stefan George’s famous line “Ich fühle Luft von anderem Planeten”. Schoenberg himself saw this visionary music as becoming “relieved from gravitation – passing through clouds into ever thinner air, the forgetting of all the hardships of earthly life”.
After the premiere of a new work by Mark Andre, a student of Lachenmann and Grisey, the evening closes with Sofia Gubaidulina’s Hommage à T. S. Eliot, written at the suggestion of Gidon Kremer – with the same line-up as Schubert’s famous octet, albeit with a soprano voice. For the mostly wintry images underlying Eliot’s cycle of poems Four Quartets which deal with themes such as guilt, eternity and freedom, Gubaidulina created pastel-like, meditative music, in which time and again a conscious silence is interrupted by iridescent concentrations of sound.