It is a widely-held belief that the music of the 20th century lacks sensuousness. This concert overturns that opinion when Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker perform Luciano Berio’s Coro and Igor Stravinsky’s Pulcinella – works which in different ways mix modernity with Italian verve. In the case of Coro, there is also a premiere, as the work has never been performed before by the Berliner Philharmoniker.
Coro reflects Berio’s creative world more than any other of his compositions. As the Guardian wrote, this is “the one work that brings together all that is best in Berio’s music: his acute sensitivity to the possibilities of voices and instruments, and how text and music can be combined in original and unexpected ways. … The music of Coro is passionate, involving and humane.” This humanity is shown not least in the text, which is based on a selection of folk poetry from all over the world, including Native Americans, Polynesia, Croatia and Iran.
Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Pulcinella is also based on older styles. It is obvious to the listener that the composer makes free use of the music of the Baroque, and of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi in particular, best known for his Stabat Mater. Stravinsky reformulates Pergolesi’s musical language, adding modern dissonant harmonies – but without losing the dance-like grace of the original.