Sir Harrison Birtwistle is one of the Britain’s pre-eminent composers. His music is often energetic, with a startling sense of momentum. It also has an ancient, primordial sense of the bittersweet, sounding – in the words of Guardian critic Tom Service – as if it has been “summoned from the guts of the world”. This December, as part of his 80th birthday celebrations, the London Philharmonic Orchestra presents the UK premiere of his latest work.
Responses: Sweet disorder and the careful caress is a concerto for piano and orchestra. Pierre-Laurent Aimand, one of the world’s most sought-after pianists, leads. Aimand has premiered works by Stockhausen, Boulez and Ligeti, and is regarded as a key force in promoting contemporary music. LPO principal Vladmir Juroswki, famed for his dynamism and musicianship, conducts.
Three other pieces, by Stravinsky and Messiaen, accompany the premiere. The former’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1920) is a riotous mixture of archaic Russian orthodox melodies and modernist inventiveness. Scored for wind and brass, it dispenses with the strings that form the bedrock of most orchestral music. His short ballet Orpheus (1947), composed in his neo-classical phase, is a work of great grace and charm. It also visits a mythological theme that has transfixed Birtwistle throughout his career, in works such as the monumental opera The Mask of Orpheus (1986) and the Rilke-inspired Orpheus Elegies (2003-04).
Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques (1955-56) is one of the culminations of his lifelong passion for birdsong, which he believed to be a form of music. In fifteen minutes, the piece integrates the calls of eighteen species from around the world. It is a sublime cacophony, with dizzying piano cadenzas and trilling flutes. This will be an unmissable evening for all followers of modern classical music.
|What||Birtwistle, Messiaen and Stravinsky, Royal Festival Hall|
|Where||Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
On 06 Dec 14, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|Price||£9 - 65|
|Website||Click here to book via the Southbank Centre|