Scharoun Ensemble (photo: Felix Broede)

Chamber Music

Scharoun Ensemble Berlin


Ulrich Matthes speaker

Albtraum und Idylle

Music by Claude Debussy, Paul Hindemith, Franz Schubert, Jörg Widmann and Richard Wagner

Texts by Franz Kafka, Joseph von Eichendorff, Wolfgang Herrndorf, Bertolt Brecht and Heinrich von Kleist

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A plaintive flute, murmuring springs, notes wafting away in the twilight: Clemens Brentano’s poem Evening Serenade (“Hark, the flute laments again”) takes up typical motifs of Romanticism. The text depicts a poetic image of nature, focussing on the balance between light and darkness, stillness and movement. Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune(Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun) is also filled with poetry, drawing on the legend of Pan and Syrinx handed down by Ovid. The stubborn faun, who pursues the nymph Syrinx, loves to rouse the sleepy shepherds from their midday rest and spread fear and “panic” – anxiety and relaxation are closely linked here.

The Scharoun Ensemble Berlin explores this emotional roller coaster in a concert with the title “Nightmare and Idyll”. The well-structured programme includes excerpts from Paul Hindemith’s neoclassical ballet music Der Dämon(The Demon), which takes on grotesque characteristics at times with its distinctive rhythm, and the second movement from Franz Schubert’s Quartet “Death and the Maiden”; as in the song on which it is based, death is presented here as comforter and friend. Jörg Widmann’s Fieberphantasie [Fever Fantasy] for piano, string quartet and clarinet bridges the gap between Romanticism and the present: “I often feel Robert Schumann’s melodic shape to be like the amplitude of a temperature curve,” says the composer, “nervous, flickering, feverish, an infinite number of small and large wave crests and troughs within the principal line.” The concert also includes the slow movement from Schubert’s Octet and Wagner’s SiegfriedIdyll in the version for chamber ensemble. Ulrich Matthes reads texts by Joseph von Eichendorff, Heinrich von Kleist, Franz Kafka, Bertolt Brecht and others.

Scharoun Ensemble (photo: Felix Broede)