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The Berlin Musikfest Opening Concert Report

The Berlin annual Musikfest opening concert, 2013, was performed by Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra (PSO).The concert was performed under the direction of conductor Manfred Honeck and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. There were three programsthe PSO played during the opening set;

Leos Janacek: Suite for the String Orchestra,

Witold Lutoslawski; Chain II, Dialogue for Violin and Orchestra

Richard Strauss: Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life), Symphonic poem for the large orchestra opus 40

Leos Janacek: Suite for the String Orchestra

Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra director Honeck set the proceedings in motion with Janacek’s Suite for String Orchestra, a piece the Czech composer wrote at 23. The piece showcases the prevailing romanticism of the late 19th century through its six movements. The movements possessed great rhythmic and melodic characteristics of Moravian folkloric compositions. The performance started with the Moderator movement, a G minor, went to Adagio, Andante Con Moto, Presto, back to Adagio, and finished off with Andante (Nevres,1). The orchestra started the moderator (G minor) movement with low strings, then moved to Adagio, which used high strings. Honeck conducted the adagio movement intending to create a softer contrast between the two movements.

The andante con moto was conducted at a moderate tempo while the presto was set around a D note. The presto movement was also conducted interchangeably through a repeated pattern of super-fast, fast, and slow rhythm. The second adagio movement provided two subjects; the first subject is slow-moving while the second subject is quicker. It provides a relaxing contrast that is relaxing until it ends with the same tempo. The slow tempo is the epitome of the graceful and delicate melody of the symphony. The last movement isAndante played in a B minor. The movement’s rhythm was fast-paced, providing an excellent finale to the first program. The Andante (B minor) starts with a slow tempo and gradually accelerates until the end, where the tempo fades again, producing a harmonic ambiance to the movement. The firstAdagio and thetwo Andante movements were the most prolific.

Witold Lutoslawski; Chain II, Dialogue for Violin and Orchestra

The second program, Chain II entailed a demanding violin part that the exceptional Annie-Sophie Mutter handled. She premiered the piece 25 years ago and maintained a harmonic relationship with the style. The piece is the work of the legendary polish composer, Lutoslawski, who applied typical structural concepts of interlocking themes between the violin and orchestra (Sirnon, 1). The program entails pitting a solo violin on the one side and the orchestra on the other. The violin is pitted against a series of events from the composer’s playbook of orchestral technique. The orchestra delivered a firmly controlled counterbalance to the excursions of the violin. The piece contains two movements; Ad libitum and A Battuta. The Ad libitum is characterized by free rhythms and less rigorous interactions between the orchestra and soloist. The violin plays continuously while the orchestra offers support but in a subordinate role. In contrast, the A Battuta movement is notated in a metered way where the violinist interlocks with the orchestra themes creating a chain structure.

Richard Strauss: Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life), Symphonic Poem for the Large Orchestra Opus 40

The last piece performed by the PSO was Ein Heldenleben, composed by Strauss, a legendary German composer. The program was the longest, being approximately 50 minutes, and Honeck delivered exceptionally. The piece was composed in 1899 and categorized as a romantic composition.The piece begins at a brisk pace with an E flat key transitioning to the second section of B major with high strings and wind instruments, which ends with a dramatic pause. The piece’s second movementbegins with woodwinds and low brass, while the third movement is characterized by a melody featuring a solo violin (Nevres, 1). The third movement incorporates a sonata form where the violin introduces the primary themes in the exposition. The recapitulation section of the low strings, winds, and brass returns the theme to the tonic key. The fourth movement is dominated by the G flat that shifts the beat over to 4/4, leading to the final section. The last movement commences with a fast-descending E flat triad that culminates into an E flat major that signals the climax.The piece differs from typical dynamics since it is performed without breaks

Comments on the Concert

The concert was held at the Berlin Philharmonic concert hall. The streaming of the concert was produced by the Digital Concert Hall, which is the official Berliner Philharmoniker virtual concert venue. The audience comprises orchestra music fanatics who pay tickets to watch the ensembles programmed to perform at the music festival. The audience who watched the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra rewarded the orchestra with abundant applause for their performance. The opening concert featured Annie-Sophie Mutter’s piece, Chain II which drewthe audience to the symphony. The inventive violin playing caused a profusion of delight, especially to Lutoslawski, among the attendees. The hall’s acoustics carried the most subtle moments of the performance with pride as the audience was taken on a magical musical journey. Besides, the performance necessitated two encores showcasing the quality of the opening concert.

 

 

Works Cited

Nevres, M. Ozgur. “Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra – Opening Concert of Musikfest Berlin 2013 – Andantemoderato.Com”. Andantemoderato.Com, 2015, https://andantemoderato.com/pittsburgh-symphony-orchestra-opening-concert-of-musikfest-berlin-2013/.

Sirnon, Jesse. Assets.Culturaldistrict. Org, 2013,https://assets.culturaldistrict.org/culturaldistrict/system/assets/7834/original/Mundoclasico_2013-09-16.pdf. Accessed 20 Apr 2021.

 

 

 

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