What musical direction would Franz Schubert have taken had he not died in 1828 when he was only 31 years of age? One possible answer is Luciano Berio’s symphonic collage Rendering, which assembles Schubert’s sketches from the last weeks of his life. However, Berio does not attempt to either complete or reconstruct these fragments, which were originally intended for a symphony in D major. Rather, he creates a web of varying texture in which Schubert’s presence is felt – sometimes more, sometimes less – interwoven with echoes of later music.
The concert opens with a work that owes everything to Berio’s own inventiveness: Sequenza VII for oboe. In his 14 Sequenzas for various solo instruments, Berio demonstrates their endless tonal possibilities. During the 2011/2012 season, a total of four of these works were presented by members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, beginning with Albrecht Mayer, principal oboist with the Berliner Philharmoniker since 1992.
William Walton’s First Symphony is a work full of fire and colour, revealing occasional flashes of the influence of Bruckner and Hindemith. In both its tumultuous and its tender moments, it may reflect events in the life of the composer around the time of its composition, when a long-standing relationship had come to an end and a new woman entered his life. One of the main advocates of the symphony today is Semyon Bychkov, this evening’s conductor. The Financial Times recently wrote about a performance in London: “Bychkov gave it space, time to breathe and luxuriate in its orchestral textures, and explored a third dimension of background colours and emotions.”