The Genesis Suite was the idea of another, less well-known musician, Nathaniel Shilkret, who invited six other composers to write a movement each illustrating episodes from the first book of the Bible. Arnold Schoenberg took chaos, Shilkret himself came up with the creation, Darius Milhaud depicted the brothers Cain and Abel, and Stravinsky delivered Babel.
The United States had been a haven for artists fleeing the mainland of Europe as fascism spread, and their energy and creativity fed into American culture in all media – especially film, music, and visual art. But being fellow arrivals did not necessarily make them best friends, as the cool atmosphere at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre showed.
Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra play the largely forgotten Genesis Suite in a concert that is given special visual interest by the creative director Gerard McBurney.
Rattle and the LSO have reached new heights since the conductor took up his new role as music director in 2017. Equally committed to shedding new light on classics in the repertoire and to introducing audiences to new and unjustly neglected work, from his very first concert at the Barbican, music-lovers have gone to the concert hall expecting just that bit more, and have not come away disappointed.
Bernstein's Wonderful Town, which brought the Rattle/LSO 2017 music-making to an end, was a spectacular success. (Let's hope for something comparable in the run-up to Christmas 2018: watch Culture Whisper for updates.)
Also on the programme on 13 January is one of the best-loved works by another emigre, Belá Bartók. His Concerto for Orchestra, first performed the year before the Genesis Suite, is a wonderfully robust piece, rich with melody and texture, and a marvellous piece to enjoy live in the concert hall, because of its extensive use of the percussion. In the lovely fourth movement Allegretto, the timpani have to change notes within in every second – and that's as good to look at as it is to hear.
If you haven't heard Rattle and the LSO in action together yet, this would be a great place to start.
|Genesis Suite, Rattle and the LSO, Barbican
|Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | MAP
On 13 Jan 18, 7:30 PM – 9:40 PM
|£15 - £55
|Click here for more information and booking