Haas: Percussion concerto & Hommage à Bridget Riley

Haas: Percussion concerto & Hommage à Bridget Riley

In November 2019, two new works by Georg Friedrich Haas celebrated their world premieres – Konzert für Klangwerk und Orchester and Hommage à Bridget Riley.

Konzert für Klangwerk und Orchester (2019)

for solo percussion and orchestra
picc.2.2.2.bcl.2.cbsn – – hp – 2perc (incl.timp).acc –
Duration: 20'
World Premiere: 29.11.2019, Luxembourg

Luxembourg Philharmonie presented Georg Friedrich Haas’s percussion concerto Konzert für Klangwerk und Orchester. The work was composed for percussionist Christoph Sietzen, who performed it with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, led by Ilan Volkov. Sietzen constructed an extraordinary instrument, or to be more precise a whole system of interconnected instruments, specifically for Haas' new piece. This included the soloist finding the required materials at a scrapyard. A "Klangwand" – a “sound wall” consisting of 150 different metal objects – was the result of Sietzen’s work. In January 2020, the Konzert für Klangwerk und Orchester premieres in Haas's native Austria with the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien under Alondra de la Parra.

Listen to the live recording of Konzert für Klangwerk und Orchester at the Philharmonie Luxembourg (starting at 24:44). A German TV report about Christoph Sietzen's project with Georg Friedrich Haas is available on youtube.

Picture of Christoph Sietzen, Georg Friedrich Haas and Ilan Volkov
World Premiere of Konzert für Klangwerk und Orchester


29.11.2019 (WP)
Philharmonie Luxembourg, Christoph Sietzen (percussion), Ilan Volkov (cond.), Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg

27.01.2020 (NP)
Wiener Konzerthaus, Christoph Sietzen (percussion), Alondra de la Parra (cond.), ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien

Score of Konzert für Klangwerk und Orchester

Hommage à Bridget Riley (2019)

for ensemble – – perc – pf –
Duration: 40'
World Premiere: 23.11.2019, Huddersfield

The world premiere of Georg Friedrich Haas’s Hommage à Bridget Riley took place as part of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, an associated partner of ricordilab. The new ensemble piece was commissioned and presented by the London Sinfonietta, under the baton of Brad Lubman. The composer paid tribute to the renowned British artist Bridget Riley (*1931, London), who is presented in a major retrospective at the Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery. Haas’s music incorporates the overwhelming expressivity of the artist’s works – as if her paintings have transcended beyond the sphere of visual arts, and into the realm of sound. Following the world premiere in Huddersfield, the piece will see a second performance by the same group in London’s Southbank Centre on 5 December. 

Picture of Brad Lubman rehearsing with London Sinfonetta
Georg Friedrich Haas, Brad Lubman and London Sinfonetta at rehearsals

Program note (excerpt)

"He [Haas] settled on a shape Riley uses frequently, the circle, and found a kind of transcription in a texture that gradually gains in volume and diversity, then falls away again, thus at once establishing itself as a single musical object and completing a circle in time. […] Haas writes for a ten-piece string ensemble, with which, at the beginning of his piece, he covers a range of almost seven octaves, each ‘circle’ – perhaps ‘wheel’ would be a better term – lasting about half a minute as it comes and goes. Gradually, as wheel follows wheel, three processes become evident. More instruments become involved – percussion, piano, four assorted wind (horn and trombone, flute and clarinet, all these also playing microtones) – as the pitch range narrows and the succession of circles speeds up. The visual parallel would be with circles that take on colour as they become smaller."

Author: Paul Griffiths
Published with the kind permission of the author and London Sinfonietta

Picture of Georg Friedrich Haas and Brad Lubman
Georg Friedrich Haas after the world premiere

Press quote

[...] Haas’s Homage to Bridget Riley, heroically premiered by the London Sinfonietta at St Paul’s Hall near by, was like stepping from a surreal multicoloured world into a dense nightmare. Ingeniously, Haas has devised a musical mirror of a quintessential Riley painting. He presents 20 minutes of thick, scurrying material in which pitch extremities converge towards a central cluster. That material is then repeated, but condensed to half the length, then a quarter, an eighth, and so on until, in the final two minutes, you feel sucked into a black hole where time is accelerating towards infinity.”
The Times, 25 November 2019 


23.11.2019 (WP)
Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Brad Lubman (cond.), London Sinfonietta

Southbank Centre (Queen Elizabeth Hall), Brad Lubman (cond.), London Sinfonietta

Score of Hommage à Bridget Riley

Photos: Alfonso Salgueiro/Philharmonie Luxembourg (titel, WP of Konzert), Mark Allan (rehearsal of Hommage), Brian Slater/hcmf (WP of Hommage)