The 2019 Eight Bridges Music Festival in Cologne, associated partner of Ricordilab
, featured a wide variety of new music performances and premieres, including works by Sergej Newski, Gerhard Stäbler, and Georg Friedrich Haas.
Now in its ninth year, the festival, which ran from April 30 to May 11, celebrates new music with an overarching theme every year. 2019 had the title “GroßstadtPolyphonie,” or “urban polyphony,” and many of the concerts took place beyond the usual classical music hall or stage: skater parks, underground train stations, ship docks, and flood control reservoirs were just a few of this year’s more unconventional venues. Eight Bridges also featured a wealth of new orchestral and chamber commissions, including Newski’s 18 Episodes for Orchestra
, Stäbler’s Den Müllfahrern von San Francisco
in a new version for orchestra, and Haas’ works im Schatten der Harfen
Sergej Newski: 18 Episodes for Orchestra (2019)
for orchestra and tape
18.104.22.168 - 22.214.171.124 - 4perc - pf.elec - 126.96.36.199.8
Commissioned by Acht Brücken | Musik für Köln, supported by the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung
WP: 05.05.2019, Cologne
In a much-anticipated performance by Teodor Currentzis and the SWR Symphonieorchester, Newski’s 18 Episodes for Orchestra
encompassed a “sensuality in its sound,” according to neue musikzeitung. The composer describes the form of this orchestral work as “structured like the episodes of a TV series.” The work also involves two playbacks of “rather randomly selected city noises”, which however “must be the sounds of the city in which the piece is being performed”. Here, Newski says, the music “is forced to compete with the chaos of street noises, thereby acquiring a secondary aspect: it turns into street music.”
Teodor Currentzis cleverly structured the world premiere of Sergej Newski’s 18 Episodes for Orchestra
, in which the piano (soloist: Christoph Grun) plays a leading role. The atmospheric, revolving music integrates city sounds through playback, and, towards the end, the orchestra’s instruments mingle with multiple squawking Kazoos, little toy instruments.
Kölnische Rundschau, 04.05.2019
Next in the program is the world premiere of 18 Episodes for Orchestra
, a work commissioned by Acht Brücken and written by Sergej Newski, himself also present in the audience. Spherical sounds, chirps, plunks, thundering echoes – in this work, it can be seen for the first time just how
Currentzis conducts: using his whole body. He sways and dances, grins and huffs, as if sawing wood at one moment and rowing a boat at another. This work, too, is received with great applause – for Currentzis, the composer Newski and the orchestra.
Already in 2006 Currentzis conducted Sergei Newski’s work Blick aus der Entfernung
during the first festival TERRITOX in Moscow, thus returning the composer, who emigrated from Russia in the early 90s, to his native musical milieu. Thirteen years later, 18 Episodes for Orchestra
is the first premiere Currentzis has led in his position as chief conductor of the SWR Symphony Orchestra. The work is cinematographic in its form, full of exciting plasticity and providing a strongly imbued experience of the fragility, unreliability and ephemerality of today’s world. At the very moment in which the piece reaches its silent climax, an onset of city noises are superimposed over the instrumental textures, as if the walls of the concert hall had ceased to exist. Newski plays with acoustic close-ups, with a continuous interchange of aural perspectives and, in so doing, achieves a multidimensional effect in the acoustics of the space – as though you could not just hear the impact of the orchestra’s sound, but also touch it.
Score of 18 Episodes for Orchestra
Gerhard Stäbler: Den Müllfahrern von San Francisco (1990/2018)
An acronym of acoustic memories of a journey for orchestra
3(picc).3.3.3 - 188.8.131.52 - timp.3perc - pf - 184.108.40.206.8
Commissioned by Westdeutscher Rundfunk
WP: 04.05.2019, Cologne
Although originally written in 1990, the newest orchestral version of Stäbler’s Den Müllfahrern von San Francisco
premiered at the Cologne festival in a performance conducted by Brad Lubman with the WDR Symphonieorchester. “In the Kölner Philharmonie the work conceived a sort of worker’s uprising through the impact of its impulsive rhythmic and vocal signs, mixed with the words of beat poet Alan Ginsberg,” wrote the neue musikzeitung.
Watch the complete live performance beginning at 1:39:00:
Score of Den Müllfahrern von San Francisco
Georg Friedrich Haas: im Schatten der Harfen (2018)
hn.tpt.trb.2perc.1hp(2 instruments).vl1.vl2.vla.2vc.db (with C extension)
Commisioned by Casa da Música Porto, ACHT BRÜCKEN and oenm
WP: 06.11.2018, Porto
Georg Friedrich Haas: equinox (2018)
for clarinet, violoncello and piano
Comissioned by KölnMusik
WP: 02.05.2019, Cologne
German premiere with Klangforum Wien of Im Schatten der Harfen, 2019
Georg Friedrich Haas, on the other hand, premiered two works commissioned by the festival with very different instrumentations: his ensemble work im Schatten der Harfen
, performed by the Klangforum Wien with conductor Sylvain Cambreling, and his chamber work equinox
for clarinet, cello, and piano, played by Klangforum Wien’s own Bernhard Zachhuber, Benedikt Leitner, and Florian Müller respectively. Just two weeks later, im Schatten der Harfen
had its Austrian national premiere in Salzburg with the österreichisches ensemble für neue musik under Johannes Kalitzke. And it doesn’t stop there: the Basel Sinfonietta has recently announced a further world premiere by Georg Friedrich Haas in next year’s Eight Bridges program, with a new orchestra work co-commissioned by Basel Sinfonietta and Eight Bridges scheduled to debut under the baton of Baldur Brönnimann May 8, 2020.
The overwhelming acoustics of the church combined particularly effectively the sounds in Haas’ trio equinox
: piano and cello played wild arpeggios whilst the clarinet held long pedal tones through circular breathing – a sadistic exercise for any wind player.
Kölnische Rundschau, 04.05.2019
[For im Schatten der Harfen
Arpeggios from two differently pitched harps – both simultaneously played by Virginie Tarrête – resonate in the kaleidoscopic ensemble through an alternation of sometimes harsh and at other times luminous spectral chords. The result: atmospheric harmony at its purest.
Kölner Stadtanzeiger, 03.05.2019
Perfomances of im Schatten der Harfen
œnm . österreichisches ensemble für neue musik, Johannes Kalitzke
(cond.), Salzburg (EA)
Klangforum Wien, Sylvain Cambreling
(cond.), Cologne (EA)
Remix Ensemble, Peter Rundel
(cond.), Porto (WP)
Score of im Schatten der Harfen
Photos: Jörg Hejkal