It’s a premiere: For the first time since his farewell to the Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle will perform in Berlin with his new orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra. The programme he has chosen may indeed be seen as homage to and reminiscence of his years in Berlin and their lasting innovations. Hans Abrahamsen’s work let me tell you was composed for Barbara Hannigan and the Berliner Philharmoniker, and performed by these artists on 20 December 2013. In 2016, the composer received the Grawemeyer Award for this work, which is an annually granted recognition of pioneering artistic and scientific achievements. The text is based on Paul Griffith’s eponymous novella; in the words allotted to her by Shakespeare in Hamlet, Ophelia tells her own story.
Griffiths made a name for himself not just as a writer of novellas and librettos but also as a critic and writer. He wrote mainly about New Music, including a book about Olivier Messiaen. He remarked on the composer’s final work, Èclairs sur l’Au-Delá: “The only signs of age in this last piece are in its wisdom – of which its orchestral virtuosity and its breadth of reference provide material evidence – and perhaps also in its audacity, including its audacity in bringing together an ensemble of 128 players.” In 2004, Sir Simon Rattle performed and recorded this one-hour-long gigantic legacy with its monolithic and tumultuous, fluid and floating, powerful and delicate sound visions together with the Philharmoniker. What will these “meditations on the beyond and about the Heavenly Jerusalem” (Yvonne Loriod) sound like now, 15 years later and with other musical partners?