While the 2015/2016 season with its focus on French music and the symphonies of Beethoven draws to a close, the Berliner Philharmoniker and their chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle turn their attention to two works from England: In addition to the première of Julian Anderson’s Incantesimi, there is also Edward Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro for String Quartet and String Orchestra op. 47. The concert closes with Antonín Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances op. 46.
Born in England in 1967, Julian Anderson has been described by the Evening Standard as the “most talented composer of his generation”. His orchestral work entitled Incantesimi (“Magic Spells”) was commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation, the London Royal Philharmonic Society and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and is dedicated to Sir Simon Rattle. Anderson studied under Olivier Messiaen and Tristan Murail among others, and his style is also heavily influenced by non-European musical languages. Incantesimi, in which the cor anglais plays a prominent role, is the beginning of a series of premieres of short works which Sir Simon and the Berliner Philharmoniker are presenting as of this season under the title of “Tapas”.
Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro was commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, which first performed it in March 1905 under the direction of the composer. In this effective and unusually orchestrated work, Elgar integrates Baroque formal elements such as a fugue into a Classical sonata, while clearly retaining the unmistakable late Romantic expressive style of the composer.
In 1878, Antonín Dvořák only received 300 marks from Fritz Simrock for his first cycle of Slavonic Dances. A spectacular deal for the publisher, as the dances – both in the original version for piano duet and in the orchestral version – quickly became a bestseller, and simultaneously marked the international breakthrough of the composer. Individual dances of the series can be heard regularly, whereas performances of the entire cycle are a rarity.