An odd programme proved excellent
Mahler Chamber Orchestra/ Malkki/ Aimard, Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Maltings, June 25. Composed of musicians from 20 different nations, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra has established an international reputation since its foundation in 1997 by Claudio Abbado.
Mahler Chamber Orchestra/ Malkki/ Aimard, Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Maltings, June 25.
Composed of musicians from 20 different nations, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra has established an international reputation since its foundation in 1997 by Claudio Abbado. In the first of two concerts it gave at the Festival, the orchestra performed music by Ligeti, Birtwistle and Haydn, which might appear an odd combination, but proved to be excellent programming.
Ligeti's Ramifications of 1968-69 for string orchestra was played in a version for twelve solo strings, divided into two sextets, each tuned a quarter tone apart. Though only eight minutes long, it's a complex piece, and while it may be difficult to understand quite what is going on, the work's imaginative invention makes an immediate impression, and the playing, under the direction of Susanna Malkki, was superb.
Malkki is a real presence on the rostrum, and obviously enjoys great rapport with the players, evident in the splendid performance of Haydn's Symphony No. 60. This had tremendous energy and the real sense of theatre needed for a work that had its origins as instrumental music to a play.
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Harrison Birtwistle's Slow Frieze is scored for large orchestra and solo piano, the latter played by the Festival's artistic director, Pierre-Laurent Aimard. As ever, Birtwistle creates magical sounds, though the piece seemed to outstay its welcome somewhat.
After this a splendid finale, with Malkki providing a dynamic reading of Haydn's late masterpiece, the Clock symphony.
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