a writer's blog

notabu.ensemble neue musik | DEC 6, 2023

Introductory Talk

Introductory Talk

notabu.ensemble neue musik; works by Peter Gahn, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Valerio Sannicandro, Sven-Ingo Koch, and Birke Bertelsmeier.

(This post also appears, in slightly different form, at my Instagram account betweendrafts.)

Probably the last concert I attended this year. After a day crammed with lectures, presentations, meetings, and self-inflicted running in bad weather, I had to persuade myself to go, and even to scramble to get there in time. But it was absolutely worth it. Each of the five pieces had a lot to offer, with three of the composers—Peter Gahn, Valerio Sannicandro, and Sven-Ingo Koch—in attendance.

Some parts of the introductory talk with the composers, moderated by Uwe Sommer-Sorgente, were rather trivial and even somewhat annoying—particularly those revolving around supposedly “programmatic” aspects of their respective compositions. As Edward Tufte once put it, “once you have the words, it’s impossible to see around them,” and that can quickly become a problem when compositions purportedly are about “scattered islands” or “ocean depths” or what have you.

Luckily, these pieces turned out to be wildly better than that. The interplay between instrument sets in Gahn’s »Vermischte Landschaft« was exceptionally interesting and captivating; Sannicandro’s “Sea Forms” had a riveting dynamic and texture with a lot of things going on; Koch’s “To Speak Of” was a convincing and really spell-binding piece that felt a lot shorter than 20 minutes; and Birke Bertelsmeier’s pieces from her »Suite« were highly enjoyable blockbusters and certainly meant as such.

Stockhausen’s »In Freundschaft« for horn solo, finally, was special. The performance was fantastic, including the choreography. (Stockhausen’s score has four pages with notes and eight pages of instructions on how to play them, including some instrument and body movements and dance steps.) As it’s from 1978 and a strictly serial »Formelkomposition«, it’s modern but has a slightly outdated flavor. So while everyone enjoyed and appreciated Bert Bürgers’s virtuoso performance, not everyone necessarily enjoyed the music! For my part, I was fascinated by it, precisely because it’s so extremely tightly structured; every note feels just right, at the right time and the right place. No surprise here; well-ordered structures are often the first things I admire :-)

All Music & Theater Reviews


If you have something valuable to add or some interesting point to discuss, I’ll be looking forward to meeting you at Mastodon!

Tagged as: ,