Eternity

Thursday 1.4.2021 19.00 Season concert
From 29/23/12 € Espoo Cultural Centre
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Thursday 1.4.2021 19.00 From 29/23/12 € Espoo Cultural Centre

Ryan Bancroft and Tuuli Takala have planned an interesting, vibrant programme. The summery breezes of Sebastian Hilli lead to questions of eternity by Ives and Schreker. The concert concludes with Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen, a reflection on the wanton destruction wrought by war on art and its institutions.

Artists

Program

Sebastian Hilli

Peach

Sebastian Hilli, who has risen to the forefront of young Finnish composers, has noted that he needs to have a clear-cut idea or concept on which to build a composition. Often starting with the title, his construction process varies quite a lot from one work to the next. Sonorities, colours and textures are important elements in Hilli’s music, whose expressive gamut ranges from frenetic pulsation to fragility on the threshold of hearing.
Hilli has so far confined his powerful imagery to instrumental music, whether for orchestra or various ensembles, with one glorious exception, Affekt (2017) for choir and orchestra. Hilli’s works have done well in competitions and reviews: Reachings (2014) or orchestra won the Toru Takemitsu Competition in Japan in 2015 and was nominated the winner of the category of composers under 30 at the international composer rostrum in 2017; he received the Gaudeamus Prize in the Netherlands in 2018, and his orchestral work Snap Music (2018) won the Teosto Prize in Finland in 2019.
The orchestral work Peach (2019) was commissioned by the Finnish Chamber Orchestra and premiered under Jukka-Pekka Saraste in Tammisaari in August 2019. The many meanings and associations of the word ‘peach’ led Hilli to conjure forth an airy, intense and captivating soundscape that he has compared to a hot summer’s day and the unreal sensations of feelgood and tingling in the body that it engenders.
Peach is a compact and dramaturgically uncomplicated structure. The slow evocative opening, where the melodic material blends into the texture, coalesces into a faster, energetically pulsating section that then is abruptly interrupted by a mysteriously expectant, static section. The music grows through waves of crescendo and diminuendo to a culmination and then grows quiet, like a vanishing mirage on a hot day.

Franz Schreker

"Vom ewigen Leben”

Austrian composer Franz Schreker began his career at a fascinating but challenging time when a multitude of stylistic and aesthetic ideals were coursing through central European music. Initially a full-blooded late Romantic whose music was tinted with an Impressionist richness of colour, he subsequently progressed to a style that was chromatic, tonally unstable and bordering on modernism.
Schreker enjoyed his greatest successes with his operas, the greatest hits among which were Der ferne Klang [The Distant Sound] (1910), Die Gezeichneten [The Branded] (1915) and Der Schatzgräber [The Treasure Hunter] (1918). He was even seen at times as a rival to Richard Strauss for the status of leading opera composer in German-speaking Europe. His star began to fade in the 1920s, however, and late in his life he ended up being harassed by the Nazis before his early death in near obscurity at the age of 55.
Two solo songs written to German translations of poems from Walt Whitman’s collection Leaves of Grass (Wurzeln und Halme and Ein Kind sagte) (1923) remained Schreker’s final vocal works. He returned to them four years later, orchestrating them and giving them the collective title Vom ewigen Leben [Of eternal life], creating essentially a miniature cantata. The music follows the sentiments of the text very closely in a rich, free-tonal texture, the melodic line wandering between an aria and a recitative.
The first of the two songs is shorter and more mobile. It is somehow appropriate, both for this piece in particular and for Schreker’s music in general, that the culmination comes at the word “Schönheit” [beauty]. From the slow concluding section of the first song, the second song follows without a break. This, the more extensive of the two, begins with an introvert, lyrical contemplation but picks up energy as the song progresses and finally rises to a brief climax before fading away into silence.

Charles Ives

Two Contemplations (Central Park in the Dark; The Unanswered Question)

US composer Charles Ives had one of the strangest careers in the history of music. He was a successful businessman by profession, and the insurance company he founded was once one of the largest in the country. In parallel with that, hidden from the public, he wrote a rather extensive and often mind-bogglingly modern body of music that was not properly discovered until he had stopped composing. Ives experimented with the most astonishing stylistic means. He is perhaps best known for his penchant for taking familiar folk tunes, hymns and marches and superimposing two or three of them, usually in different keys.
The orchestral works Central Park in the Dark and The Unanswered Question both date from 1906. Although conceived as a pair under the heading Two Contemplations, both are also performed separately. They are studies of musical space and the relationship between static and mobile situations.
Central Park in the Dark is an obviously programmatic work where the listener may imagine themselves being where the title says. The mysteriously undulating strings reflect the sounds and silences of the night, while various sounds are heard from all around: melodies played by the clarinet, flute and oboe, a piano playing the ragtime hit Hello! My Baby, and a brass band playing the Washington Post March, the various musics cascading into a chaos at the culmination.
The Unanswered Question consists of three kinds of material. There is a quiet background formed by an extremely static string texture that according to the score should be played offstage. The other two elements are the question posed seven times by the trumpet and the increasingly long and complicated answers given by the four flutes (or other woodwinds). True to the title, the trumpet’s last question remains unanswered.

Richard Strauss

Metamorphosen

When the tide of the Second World War began to turn against Germany, Richard Strauss had the misfortune of witnessing the venues where his operas had been performed turn to rubble one after the other. The opera house in Munich was bombed in late 1943; the Dresden Opera, where Strauss had enjoyed many of his greatest successes, was obliterated in February 1945, and one month later the Vienna State Opera endured a similar fate.
The destruction of opera houses affected Strauss deeply and revealed to him the dual nature of the German psyche. He was suspected of being a Nazi sympathiser, but an extract from his diary reveals his true sentiments. In May 1945, when the fighting was over, he wrote: “On the first of May, the most terrible period in the history of humanity came to an end – 12 years of brutalism and ignorance, with the greatest criminals in charge who very nearly destroyed 2,000 years of German civilisation.”
After the bombing of the opera house in Munich, Strauss made a note of a brief motif under the title ‘Lament for Munich’. On the day following the destruction of the Vienna State Opera, he took out the sketch and began to outline a work which he completed a month later, in April 1945. Metamorphosen, subtitled ‘Study for 23 solo strings’, is a distillation of Strauss’s personal feelings into a compelling universal elegy.
Metamorphosen is in a single expansive movement, dominated by a rich and often polyphonic string sound. The music flows in broad arcs, escalating at times into grand climaxes. There is a reference to the funeral march in Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony at the very beginning, and subsequent studies have revealed references not only to Beethoven but also to Bach, Mozart and Wagner. After the greatest culmination, the music returns to the opening slow tempo, and the conclusion is dominated by sombre, tragic tones. A more extended quote from the Eroica funeral march emerges in the bass. Adjacent to this in the score, Strauss wrote the eloquent words “In memoriam”.

Meet the Artist

The Friends of Sinfonetta will make an interview with Tapiola Sinfonietta´s next artistic partner Ryan Bancroft and residence artist Tuuli Takala.

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