Unsuk Chin refers to her orchestral work Rocaná (Room of Light) as a “sound sculpture”. It is inspired, among others, by the famous artist Ólafur Elíasson – a synaesthetic constellation in many respects, in which optical, tonal and spatial aspects come together. With this work, the composer, who the Berliner Philharmoniker have admired for many years, once again enables the audience to experience contemporary music “as something immediate”.
Paris, 1907: During his studies with Maurice Ravel, the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams said he was infected with an inspiring “French fever”, under the influence of which the song cycle On Wenlock Edge, originally written for tenor and chamber ensemble, was composed. The composition, named after an escarpment in England, is based on poems by the author Alfred Edward Housman, who was popular at the time. British local colour and the sense of ambiguous harmonies acquired in France are combined in this work, which is also close to Gustav Mahler through the themes of nature, love and death, and at the same time points ahead to Benjamin Britten’s later vocal cycles.
The young Richard Strauss was fascinated by Friedrich Nietzsche’s book Also sprach Zarathustra: he saw it as an encouragement to follow one’s own intuitions – and to emancipate oneself from the traditional and the established. The beginning of his tone poem has retained a futuristic feel to this day. And when Strauss mocks Johann Sebastian Bach’s venerable The Art of Fugue in the section “Von der Wissenschaft”, he simultaneously proves how skillfully he himself mastered this form.
The guest artists in this concert – conductor Daniel Harding and tenor Andrew Staples – have been close artistic partners of the Berliner Philharmoniker for many years.