Three orchestras from London will perform at the 2019 Musikfest Berlin. Each of them represents a different aspect of orchestra culture: the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique (31 August) stands for historical performance practice, the London Symphony Orchestra (16 September) for the large-scale classical-romantic ensemble and the BBC Symphony Orchestra comes from a tradition of radio orchestras distinguished by their nuancing skills and familiarity with more contemporary music.
Sakario Oramo, who has been the latter’s chief conductor since 2012, organises his programme in leaps over centuries. The mythical seethes in the works of Modest Mussorgsky and Jean Sibelius. Mussorgsky found darkly romantic tones for the legend of the witches’ dance on Midsummer’s Night – the church bell that dispels the haunting and promises a beautiful morning is in fact an ingredient provided by Rimsky-Korsakov. The flight of the swans, stuff of countless sagas and fairy-tales, gave Jean Sibelius the suggestive breadth for the main theme of his fifth symphony and set its measure and tone.
Flanked by these mythical outposts, there are works by contemporary composers. Louis Andriessen, a century younger than Mussorgsky, took inspiration for his lied cycle The Only One from two discoveries he made: the writings of Belgian poet Delphine Decompte and the singer Nora Fischer, who is just as versed in the area of jazz and pop as in classical music. “The piece flirts a little with pop songs and light music. It begins with a beautiful lied, but there is not much left of it in the end.” (Andriessen)
Olga Neuwirth’s trumpet concerto …miramondo multiplo… is a “beautiful, frothy virtuoso poem”, says Wolfgang Schreiber. “In five short movements, which all play on the concept of ‘aria’ (melody, air), she unfolds a sequence of sound images, opportunities for dialogue – a brilliant contest of the elements, the trumpet’s gleaming virtuosity, a precisely arranged blaze of orchestral colours.”