György Ligeti’s spherical sound-space composition Atmosphères is a classic of Modernism: tactile, sculptural music in which a finely woven fabric of sound without melody or rhythm seems to defy the laws of gravity. It is no surprise that director Stanley Kubrick used parts of the piece as film music in his space parable 2001: A Space Odyssey. With his later orchestral work Lontano, Ligeti developed his Atmosphères further, while retaining the basic revolutionary character of his spatial music.
Kirill Petrenko presents these two key works of the post-war avant-garde and juxtaposes them with a famous work by a fellow composer Ligeti particularly admired: the orchestral triptych La Mer by Claude Debussy. Here the ocean becomes a symbol of the elemental, immense and majestic. It is music full of sparkling details in colour, rhythm and harmony, unfurled in a staggering orchestral sound which includes harps, glockenspiel, triangle and cymbals.
We also hear Superorganisms, a new work by Czech composer Miroslav Srnka, who made his international breakthrough in 2016. His opera South Pole about the historic Antarctic race between Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott caused a sensation at Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich – with Rolando Villazón and Thomas Hampson in the leading roles, directed by Hans Neuenfels and conducted by Kirill Petrenko.