The National Youth Orchestra of Germany has come up with a special programme concept: it is integrating two pieces by contemporary composers into the performance of the Eroica. Brett Dean’s Testament will be performed, as well as a new work for orchestra and electric guitar commissioned by the German Music Council and written by Mark Barden for the National Youth Orchestra of Germany.
Brett Dean, former violist with the Berliner Philharmoniker and today one of the most successful composers of his generation, was inspired by Beethoven’s “Heiligenstadt Testament” – in particular by Beethoven’s pen, which flits quietly but audibly across the paper. Quotations from the first Razumovsky quartet also play an important role. Dean originally conceived his piece for twelve violas, and later developed an orchestral version.
Mark Barden, a student of Rebecca Saunders, Mathias Spahlinger and Jörg Widmann, understands sound as a physical phenomenon. He is not interested in playing with musical material, but in collecting and compiling sounds. His music is both highly virtuosic and noisy. “Mark Barden’s work stages the failure that occurs immediately at or beyond the limits of what we can hear and physically realise,” reads the laudatory speech of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, whose sponsorship award the composer won in 2015.
It may be a classic for us today, but when Beethoven wrote his Third Symphony in 1803, he was one of the avant-garde composers of his time. The heroic spirit of the work, the novel handling of the material and the bold harmonies had an outrageously modern effect. The National Youth Orchestra of Germany, which brings the country’s most talented young instrumentalists to Berlin once a year at the invitation of the Philharmoniker, presents this unusual programme under the direction of Christoph Altstaedt.