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“Less ready-made ceremony than a ‘blocking rehearsal’ of magic props, whereby order as a cold arrangement still leaves all options open, a glimpse behind the scenes, that is, a release into the materiality of the sound objects themselves. This means an observing way of listening, and where the eloquence of the elements of expression obtained recognises their speechlessness: first step, time and again, when searching for forms of communication without any illusions.” This is how Helmut Lachenmann characterises his orchestral composition Tableau, premiered in 1989. And yet the composer, born in 1935, seems at the same moment also to reflect aesthetic principles of Gustav Mahler’s music. For don’t Mahler’s symphonies also live essentially from a “breaking of the familiar”, the violation of “aesthetic taboos” and the attempt to “cut against the grain” using compositional methods?

2011 was the first time that Sir Simon Rattle spotlighted inner kinship of the two composers in a concert with the Berliner Philharmoniker. He continues this discourse in interpretation by performing in one concert Lachenmann’s Tableau for orchestra and Mahler’s Second Symphony, in connection with which the composer once wrote: “You are clubbed to the ground and then lifted to the highest heights on angels’ wings.” Without doubt a situation that Lachenmann too, as one of the most controversial composers of his generation, well knows.

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