The Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the world’s leading chamber music ensembles, returned to the American Academy in Rome for a series of three concerts at its Villa Aurelia on Friday-Sunday January 14-16, 2011. This marked the third annual visit by the internationally-acclaimed chamber ensemble, offering free concerts to the AAR Community and to the Roman concert-going public.
As in past years, during their visit to Rome, the members of the Scharoun Ensemble lived, rehearsed and took their meals at the AAR—in addition to performing for three days at the highest imaginable level beautiful standard concert repertoire and ground-breaking modern works. The latter included pieces by current Fellows in Musical Composition Huck Hodge and Paul Rudy and by Keeril Makan (FAAR ’09).
“The Scharoun Ensemble’s third annual visit to the American Academy in Rome provided lessons both for life and for music”, remarked Andrew Heiskell Arts Director Karl Kirchwey FAAR’95. “The Academy community shone, in the warmth and ease with which it integrated this exceptionally talented group of musicians (including partners and one infant) into its midst, providing a reminder of how vital and inclusive a social community coheres on the Janiculum each year.”
Karl Kirchwey continues: “But also, through an astonishing range of repertoire presented with the greatest virtuosity, the Scharoun Ensemble marshaled the full range of acoustic resources available from their instruments and proved that the medium of contemporary concert music is no longer animated by mere experimentation, but rather by pure artistic and emotional expression.” Wonderfully, “plans are already afoot for the Scharoun Ensemble’s return in March of 2012.”
The concert on Friday 14 January 2011 began at the Villa Aurelia at 9 PM to a standing-room-only audience of ca. 275. It featured work by Luciano Berio Rome Prize Fellow in Musical Composition Huck Hodge, including his Early Lyrics, with settings of modern Korean lyric poems sung by the luminous soprano Rinnat Moriah. Hodge’s pieces complemented a transcription for soprano and strings of two songs by Elizabethan composer John Dowland featured on the program; the Scharoun Ensemble also performed Modernist master Stefan Wolpe’s Musik für Hamlet and Beethoven’s Septet, Opus 20, a landmark in ensemble repertoire.
Friday 14 January 9.10 PM: Andrew Heiskell Arts Director Karl Kirchwey (FAAR’95) greets the capacity crowd in the Sala Aurelia. Seated at far right is AAR Director Christopher S. Celenza (FAAR’94). Credit: Gerardo Gaetani.
Friday 14 January 10.55 PM: vigorous applause for the Scharoun’s performance of Beethoven Septet op. 20. From left, Alexander Bader, Richard Duven, Ulrich Knörzer, Peter Riegelbauer, Markus Weidmann, Wolfram Brandl, Stefan de Leval Jezierski
Top photo: AAR Trustees Ambassador Boris Biancheri, Verdella Caracciolo di Forino. Bottom photo: from left, Ambassador Hans-Heinrich Wrede (German Ambassador to FAO), Beatrice Wrede, Dirk Loelke (Cultural Attaché, German Embassy). Credits: Gerardo Gaetani
A large crowd returned on Saturday night for a program featuring two world premieres and focusing entirely on twentieth and twenty-first century music. That concert featured the world premiere of a work by 2009 Luciano Berio Rome Prize Fellow in Musical Composition Keeril Makan entitled Tender Illusions, inspired by Schubert’s Octet, as well as the world premiere of Huck Hodge’s virtuosic Transfigured Etudes, performed by pianist Majella Stockhausen. The program also included Lieder ohne Worte, four pieces for violin and piano by renowned oboist and composer Heinz Holliger, as well as composer Sofia Gubaidulina’s monumental and powerful Hommage à T.S. Eliot, for soprano and octet, inspired by the poet’s great work Four Quartets.
Saturday 15 January 10.15 PM: Scharoun Ensemble takes the stage for their performance of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Hommage à T.S. Eliot for soprano and octet (1987). At center, with horn, Stefan de Leval Jezierski
Saturday 15 January 11.00 PM, on conclusion of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Hommage à T.S. Eliot. Top photo: from left, Wolfram Brandl, Rachel Schmidt, Ulrich Knörzer, Richard Duven, Rinnat Moriah, Peter Riegelbauer, Stefan de Leval Jezierski (partially obscured), Markus Weidmann. Center photo: Ulrich Knörzer, Richard Duven. Bottom photo: Peter Riegelbauer, Rinnat Moriah
The Roman public was lined up outside the Villa Aurelia well in advance of Sunday morning’s final concert by the Scharoun Ensemble, which featured Italian composer Luca Mosca’s setting of whimsical and searching haiku-like poems by Gianluigi Melega entitled Words to Score a Rhyme.
Also featured were two contrasting works by Elliott Carter Rome Prize Fellow in Musical Composition Paul Rudy, first a Rhapsody for Two for violin and viola, and then, in its world premiere, his Roman Tableaux for fixed media and all members of the Scharoun Ensemble, for which it was written. The four uninterrupted movements of Roman Tableaux take their names from familiar Roman landmarks (Gianicolo-Colosseo-Acquedotto-Foro Romano). Rudy’s piece challenged the Ensemble to engage improvisationally with fixed media, which they did from stations surrounding the audience in the Sala Aurelia. Sunday’s matinee concert concluded with a stirring performance of Dvorak’s Czech Suite, Opus 39.
Sunday 16 January 11.05 AM: performance of Luca Mosca’s Words to Score a Rhyme, Libro II (2005). Upper photo: Rachel Schmidt. Lower photo: Rachel Schmidt, Rinnat Moriah, Majella Stockhausen, Richard Duven
The Scharoun Ensemble Berlin was founded in 1983 by members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in honor of the architect Hans Scharoun (1893-1972), who designed the Berlin Philharmonie concert hall. The ensemble comprises the standard octet instrumentation, and features Alexander Bader, clarinet; Wolfram Brandl, violin; Richard Duven, cello; Stefan de Leval Jezierski, horn; Ulrich Knörzer, viola; Peter Riegelbauer, double-bass; Rachel Schmidt, violin; and Markus Weidmann, bassoon. The Ensemble was supplemented for this American Academy visit by flutist Christina Fassbender, cellist Valentin Radutiu, pianist Majella Stockhausen, and soprano Rinnat Moriah.
Andrew Heiskell Arts Director Karl Kirchwey (FAAR’95) organized the 2011 series of Scharoun Ensemble concerts for the Academy, with the assistance of Senior Programs Associate Anne Coulson, as well as that of Assistant for External Affairs Tina Cancemi and Campaign Associate Inga Clausing. Thanks are due also to Tamzen Flanders for her work on the printed concert program, as well as that of AAR Executive Secretary Gianpaolo Battaglia, Anna Celenza and AAR Assistant Director for Operations Pina Pasquantonio.
The program for the three concerts:
14 January 2011
Stefan Wolpe (1902—1972)
Musik für Hamlet: Langsamer Satz for flute, clarinet and cello (1929)
John Dowland (1563—1626)
From First Booke of Songes or Ayres (1597)
transcribed for soprano and strings by Philipp Matthias Kaufmann
Go crystal tears
Can she excuse my wrongs with virtue’s cloak
Huck Hodge (b. 1977)
Efflux for B-flat clarinet and violin (2007)
Early Lyrics for soprano, flute, bass clarinet/B-flat clarinet, violin, cello,
piano and computer-realized sound (2004)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770—1827)
Septet op. 20 (1802)
I. Adagio — Allegro con brio
II. Adagio cantabile
III. Tempo di Menuetto & Trio
IV. Tema con Variazioni (Andante)
V. Scherzo (Allegro molto e vivace) & Trio
VI. Andante con moto alla marcia — Presto
15 January 2011
Keeril Makan (b. 1972)
Tender Illusions for octet, world premiere
Huck Hodge (b. 1977)
Transfigured Etudes for piano (2010), world premiere
I. Distant, like a gathering storm
II. Interlude I — echoes . . .
III. Après l’ange du foyer
IV. Interlude II
V. Omen, unscroll a canon war! (hommage à Nancarrow)
Heinz Holliger (b. 1939)
Lieder ohne Worte, four pieces for violin and piano (1982/83)
Movements I. — IV.
Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931)
Hommage à T.S. Eliot for soprano and octet (1987)
Movements I. — VII.
16 January 2011
Luca Mosca (b. 1957)
Words to Score a Rhyme, Libro II: fifteen haiku for soprano, violin, cello
and piano (2005)
Paul Rudy (b. 1962)
Rhapsody for Two for violin and viola (1998)
Roman Tableaux for fixed media and unfixed ensemble (2010), world premiere
Four uninterrupted movements
I. Gianicolo: Air
II. Colosseo: Fire
III. Acquedotto: Water
IV. Foro Romano: Stone
Antonín Dvořák (1841—1904)
Czech Suite op. 39 (1879)
transcribed for octet by Ulf-Guido Schäfer
I. Preludio (Pastorale)
II. Polka (Allegretto grazioso)
III. Sousedská (Menuetto)
IV. Romanza (Andante con moto)
V. Finale (Furiant)