Sunday, 30 September 2012

Wien Modern in full

This year’s Wien Modern features 37 different projects for which programme details are 37 clicks away on the website, so linked after the jump are the highlights, fleshed out a little. First, some kvetching similar to what I wrote here.

Last year’s Wien Modern had its Sternstunden – Cerha’s complete Spiegel, rehearsed exhaustively on a 9am-9pm schedule by Cornelius Meister and the RSO Wien – but lost focus around a week in and ultimately suffered the ignominy of being a far less interesting festival than an event with this length, funding and prestige should be. Possible reasons were discussed at the time in one of the traditional Café Heumarkt panel discussions titled ‘Wie modern ist Wien Modern?’, which concluded that the festival is modern in the sense of modernist but not particularly contemporary. This is A Good Thing according to Lothar Knessl – the only Wien Modern co-founder to still involve himself, and who at 86 shows no signs of quitting – because the problem for composers looking to establish a profile is getting repeat performances of their works, not premieres. The logic of thoughtful consideration given to a body of work rather than continually chasing after the thrill of the new is understandable enough, as is the argument that the pressure to be compositionally prolific – akin to the ‘publish or perish’ maxim drilled into untenured US academics – shuts out slow burners and late bloomers, but in practice this is a weak excuse for programming lots of music by composers who have been ubiquitous for years and are, more importantly, Knessl’s favourites (only around a third of whom, incidentally, are still alive). Now if you are under 35 the only prospect of getting your work performed at Wien Modern is at a fringe event like the three Alte Schmiede dates, but that I haven’t been able to get a seat at these concerts up to an hour before the scheduled start is as clear an indication as any that the festival’s public wants to hear more from younger composers yet to make a name for themselves.

A reduction in scale is another thing to puzzle over, what with a 5% subsidy increase and no Vienna Philharmonic on the programme this year (saving a handy quarter of a million), and the festival has, it seems, given up on ambitious operatic projects, which in an Olga Neuwirth year is a enormous missed opportunity. The Neuwirth composer focus is at least more focused than the Cerha Schwerpunkt last year, and the two female conductors involved is a nice touch. Finally, one bit of sad news is that the opening concert will be overshadowed by the premiere of a Penderecki double concerto over at the Musikverein; I and doubtless many others would gladly go to both concerts and the decision to ditch Wien Modern for a house which traditionally programmes as little new music as it can get away with was not made at all lightly. At best this is thoughtless, though chances are good it is petty; the BRSO after all is playing a different programme the previous night that wouldn’t clash so obviously. The Wien Modern concert is at least almost fully sold out, even if Penderecki followed by a tactical Eroica – Angyan has pill-sweetening down to a fine art – guarantees that not much will be written about it.

So now for what’s on:

22/10: Kloing! and the Hommage à Klaus Nomi, with countertenor and longstanding Neuwirth collaborator Andrew Watts, should involve the full Nomi get-up if done properly.

23/10: the Klangforum’s success means that you don’t hear much from die reihe nowadays, though the ensemble is still going and worth hearing. This concert has been put together by Knessl and is centred around one of his favourites, Kagel.

24/10: More Andrew Watts. Countertenor Liederabende rarely get more miscellaneous (Cage, Reimann, Neuwirth, Adès etc).

25/10: A marathon concert from the PHACE ensemble at Palais Kabelwerk with some interesting female composers (Friebel, Harnik, Wozny, Neuwirth, Saunders, Palme etc), and a club night put on in cooperation with Pia Palme’s e_may festival. For those with Sitzfleisch and Tanzfleisch.

26/10: At the Konzerthaus, Cage’s String Quartet in Four Parts arranged for electronics and electric guitar by Patrick Pulsinger and Christian Fennesz.

27/10: The Klangforum’s annual outing to the Essl Museum in Klosterneuburg, this year to premiere Luminous Emptiness by Marcelo Toledo, a cosmos-inspired work so conceptually high-flown it can only be described in pseudo-academic jargon. Entry and bus transfer from the Musikverein are free.

28/10: Brad Lubman conducts the Tonkünstler’s annual Wien Modern/Musikverein concert, an all-American programme of Carter, Cage, Augusta Read Thomas and Jay Schwartz.

31/10 – 3/11: Liquid Loft is one of those contemporary dance groups that juxtaposes movement, sound, speech and surrealist commentary to produce provocative anti-Gesamtkunstwerke, and very impressively too (I saw them earlier this year). grace note has been in rehearsal for months already and premieres music by Arturo Fuentes (preview here).

2/11: the Arditti Quartet’s annual Wien Modern gig, with second string quartets from Bernd Richard Deutsch (premiere) and Georg Friedrich Haas, Kurtág’s Zwölf Mikroludien, and Nono’s haunting Fragmente–Stille, an Diotima.

03/11: in the afternoon the first Alte Schmiede event, in which Alexander Stankovski does something Cagean to Cage’s piano works; in the evening the Klangforum’s all-Furrer concert, to include his Erste Bank commission (meh).

04/11: the first day to get really stuck in to the music of Olga Neuwirth. The Konzerthaus hosts two Berio Saal events, one on Neuwirth’s film music which will presumably screen these DVDs, the other with the Talea Ensemble and works including torsion and Akroate Hadal.

05/11: Neuwirth’s viola concerto Remnants of songs ... an Amphigory get a second Konzerthaus outing alongside Bernhard Gander’s dirty angel, a flugelhorn and accordion double concerto, and Ligeti’s Lontano and Atmosphères. Susanna Mälkki conducts the RSO Wien.

06/11: At 19:00 the German ensemble L’art pour l’art throws a Fluxus-themed party with Kagel and more obvious names Köpcke, Knowles and Maciunas; at 21:00 Sian Edwards conducts the Klangforum in Neuwirth’s Construction in Space at the Odeon. Provided there’s no interval at the earlier Konzerthaus event it should be possible to make both thanks to the handy Stadtpark-Schwedenplatz U4 connection.

8/11: More Neuwirth, from the International Contemporary Ensemble. ... ce qui arrive ... is a multimedia work based around a recorded monologue from Paul Auster and a film of Georgette Dee which plays around with feminist ideas on the body; the piano concerto of sorts locus...doublure...solus, premiered by Larcher and praised by Boulez, uses adjusted cent measurements to undermine twelve-tone tempered pitch by the same amount over and under the notes and, microtonal experimentalism being nothing new, is more original than it sounds.

9/11: Neuwirth rubs shoulders with Cage in this RSO Wien concert conducted by Cornelius Meister. Clinamen/Nodus is like Quasare/Pulsare on a grander orchestral scale and for me one of Neuwirth’s less interesting works; the Cage is the Quartets I-VIII in the version for 93 instruments. A David Philip Hefti curtain opener rounds off the programme.

10/11: Younger composers get some play at the second of the Alte Schmiede’s afternoon concerts, as the Ensemble Wiener Collage premieres works by Grzegorz Pieniek, Roman Pawollek and Martin Kapeller alongside pieces by Thomas Wally, Julia Purgina and Bernd Richard Deutsch. In the evening at the Konzerthaus, the Ensemble intercontemporain plays Xenakis, Harvey, Gander, and Poppe (who also conducts).

11/10: the final Alte Schmiede concert, with Yaron Deutsch on electric guitar and Krassimir Sterev on accordion, and works by Franck Bedrossian, Fausto Romitelli and Clemens Gadenstätter, a composer who took Olga Neuwirth’s aesthetic and ran with it. In the evening the Salzburg-based österreichisches ensemble für neue musik – the Hebrides ensemble to the Klangforum’s London Sinfonietta – continues the electric guitar theme with Dai Fujikura’s Abandoned Time and a number of other works I never imagined Lothar Knessl would come up with in a million years. Johannes Kalitzke conducts.

12/11: with Peter Andraschke, Stefan Drees and Constantin Floros, the annual Wien Modern symposium might actually be decent this year (continues on the 13th).

12/11-14/11, 16/11: At the Konservatorium, Edenarabesque and AZRAEL, a student-produced double bill of chamber operas by faculty members Wolfgang Liebhart and Dirk D’Ase.

13/11: the Ensemble Kontrapunkte presents a more typical Knessl selection, though I cannot bring myself to complain about the presence of a certain op. 21 on the programme; Webern remains undeservedly ignored in Vienna, and not only down to the usual suspects (when did the Arnold Schoenberg Chor, for example, last show interest in the cantatas?). Dallapiccola’s Webern connection is, as ever, overplayed with the
Sieben Goethe-Lieder; Gerd Kühr hasn’t composed anything notable in the last ten years but is clearly a Knessl friend; and the music of Gérard Pesson I can’t claim to know too well. Not a bad programme by any means but if you think contemporary music festivals should aspire to be vaguely contemporary this won’t impress.

14/11: At the Brunnenpassage, a cultural centre in the colourful Brunnengasse part of the 16th district, ‘Coincidentia Oppositorium’. You should go to this just for German fringe experimentalist Limpe Fuchs; also involved in the extemporary ‘coincidence of opposites’ are a host of electronic artists and the 80-strong Brunnenchor, a community choir which sings pretty much anything and, like Brunnenpassage, is very Multikulti. Entry free.

15/11: Organ day and Cerha day at Wien Modern. At 15:00 at St. Ursula (a church attached to the Musik Uni in the first district), Cerha holds a organ-themed roundtable/masterclass with students from the university’s organ and church music institute; at 19:30, Martin Haselböck, Gordon Murray and students perform Bach and premiere Cerha (nine preludes, nine inventions). Entry free for both events.

16/11: the official closing concert, with Meister and the RSO Wien again. The programme was chosen by Knessl and as a concept is hardly original, undisputed masterpieces though Quadrivium and Rituel may be.

No comments:

Post a Comment