OLGA NEUWIRTH: Aello – ballet mécanomorphe
MATTHIAS PINTSCHER: NUR
HELMUT LACHENMANN: Tableau
ALEXANDER SCRIABIN: Symphony No. 4, Poème de l’extase, ("The Poem of Ecstasy")
Aello – ballet mécanomorphe
"NUR" means fire, in both Arabic and Hebrew. Matthias Pintscher's new work for piano and ensemble is his first ever for this combination of instruments, composed for Daniel Barenboim and the Barenboim-Said-Akademie, and is thanks to the initiative of these very special interpreters. “I was rethinking this combination of instruments when I was asked by Daniel Barenboim to write for him and for this special 'west-east' orchestra. The solo instrument and the ensemble are partners, there is no soloist in the usual sense, but an encounter at eye level, a real dialogical music-making."
In the orchestration, the metallic sound of the piano contrasts with the deep sonority of the ensemble voices; the multi-faceted opposition extends the sound like aliquot voices into the dark. In contrast to the solo piece Whirling Tissue of Light, which deals with the clinking brilliance of the piano, a soft, flowing sound is developed here. In the first of the three movements, the event gradually builds up from the lightness of an impromptus. From the quiet serenity it gradually charges up, but only culminates in a hard, metallic rhythm in the third movement. As a turning point in the middle is the contemplation, “where the ashes speak, what remains after the fire, in fine, delicate, isolated points. The music goes back to where the silence is the actual event,” says the composer. The fire is about the change of states of matter, about the transformation. Here the special flowing quality opens the view into the horizon, a distant perspective.
Symphony No. 4, Op. 54, Poème de l’extase, ("The Poem of Ecstasy")
- Born: January 6, 1872, Moscow
- Died: April 27, 1915, Moscow
- Work composed: 1905 and 1908
- Premiere: December 10, 1908, New York City, conducted by Modest Altschuler
- Instrumentation: 3 flutes, piccolo, 3 oboes, English horn, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, 3 bassoons, contrabassoon, 8 horns, 5 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, chimes, keyboard, keyboard glockenspiel, suspended cymbals, tam-tam, triangle, 2 harps, celeste, organ, strings
- CSO notable performances: Seven previous subscription weekends | Premiere: February 1924, Fritz Reiner conducting (Emery Auditorium) | Most recent: October 2017, Louis Langrée conducting
- Duration: 22 minutes
“The Muscovite seer”; “the Russian musical mystic”; “the clearest case of artistic egomania in the chronicles of music”: Alexander Scriabin was one of the most unusual of all composers. Living in the generation between Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, he showed an early talent for music and trod the accepted path of lessons, conservatory training and teaching. His visions, however, refused to be channeled into the conventional forms of artistic expression, and he developed a style and a philosophy that were unique.
Scriabin’s life was shaken by several significant changes around 1902, when he resigned from the faculty of the Moscow Conservatory to devote himself to composition and to rumination, and left his first wife to take up with another woman. From that time on, Scriabin bent his music ever more forcibly to expressing his dizzying world vision. He believed that mankind was approaching a final cataclysm from which a nobler race would emerge, with himself playing some exalted but ill-defined Messianic role in the new order. (He welcomed the beginning of World War I as the fulfillment of his prophecy.) As the transition through this apocalypse, Scriabin posited an enormous ritual that would purge humanity and make it fit for the millennium. He felt that he was divinely called to create this ritual, this “Mystery” as he called it, and he spent the last 12 years of his life concocting ideas for its realization. Scriabin’s mammoth “Mystery” was to be performed in a specially built temple in India (a country in which he never set foot), and was to include music, mime, fragrance, light, sculpture, costume, etc., etc., which were to represent the history of man from the dawn of time to the ultimate world convulsion. He even imagined a language of sighs and groans that would express feelings not translatable into mere words. He whipped all these fantasies together with a seething sexuality to create a vision of whirling emotional ferment quite unlike anything else in the history of music or any other art. In describing the Poem of Ecstasy to his friend Ivan Lipaev he said, “When you listen to it, look straight into the eye of the Sun!”
The first sketches for the Poem of Ecstasy, from 1905, were titled “Orgiastic Poem.” Scriabin wrote them in a blazing frenzy, which Maria Nemenova-Lunz later recalled. “He worked with unusual ferocity and surprised me by his perseverance,” she wrote. “Such hard qualities little matched his [dandyish] appearance. In speaking of the non-musical elements at the root of this composition, Alexander would get excited, his face changed, and he would repeat, ‘This will be unlike anything I have done so far. It will be as I feel and see now—a great joy, an enormous festival.’” The music for The Poem of Ecstasy grew from Scriabin’s literary poem of the same name, which he published in May 1906 and sent to his friends. (He once admitted that his greatest satisfaction came from regaling an assembly with these obscure verses.) When the musical work was completed, however, he discouraged printing the poetic text in the score. “Conductors who want to perform The Poem of Ecstasy,” he wrote, “can always be apprised that it has such a thing, but in general I would prefer for them to approach it as pure music.” This seems a curious pronouncement for a composer who was not only meticulous in giving his work a vivid philosophical setting, but also provided specific labels for each of its themes. He may have realized that the words were little more than a quizzical appendage to such a grandiloquent piece of music.
Modest Altschuler, Scriabin’s friend, confidant and the conductor of the premiere, remarked that The Poem of Ecstasy “sought to express something of the emotional side of [Scriabin’s] philosophy.” He described the three facets of this philosophy that emerge in the music: a) the composer’s soul in “an orgy of love;” b) “the realization of a fantastic dream;” and c) the composer’s apprehension of “the glory of his own art.” For his part, Scriabin said that various of the themes represent “human striving after the ideal,” “the awakening of the soul, gradually realizing itself (the Ego theme),” “the Will to rise up,” and “soaring flight of the spirit.” This is a challenging burden for simple musical tones to carry, and perhaps it is for this reason that Scriabin advised hearing the work as “pure music.” Approaching the piece as “pure music” also relieves the listener from receiving The Poem of Ecstasy as a philosophical tract rather than as simply a grandiose musical composition.
The style of The Poem of Ecstasy is opulently post-Romantic. Its harmony is rich and glowing, its orchestral complement colossal, its melody expressive and densely chromatic. Though it is still tonal, some of Scriabin’s new chordal combinations stretch traditional harmonic functions to great lengths. The seething emotional turmoil of the music was cultivated in the hothouse of Wagnerian Romanticism gone wild. Yet, this is music of sharp and individual character, of brilliant originality that is unique in the realm of the art. Though The Poem of Ecstasy is cast in the old sonata structure, it is better heard not as a formal exercise but rather as a musical distillation of the most intense physical and spiritual feelings—a sort of concert-hall catharsis. The grand, sweeping arches of rising tension, which grow from expectant tenderness to climactic release, parallel aspects of our lives. This music creates an ardent excitement and visceral stimulation that even the most jaded gainsayer would find hard to deny.
Of The Poem of Ecstasy, Charles O’Connell wrote:
Here is music of wondrous beauty, full of lovely themes, artfully entangled in sound and symbolism…. The simplicities and complexities of the work are still susceptible of various interpretations, and sometimes its validity is debatable; but there is no question of its inexplicable charm and mysterious loveliness.
—Dr. Richard E. Rodda
Matthias Pintscher is the Music Director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain, the world’s leading contemporary music ensemble founded by Pierre Boulez. In addition to a robust concert season in Paris, he tours extensively with the orchestra throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States. In 2020/21, Pintscher also began a three-season appointment as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s new Creative Partner. This season Pintscher together with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra collaborate in two concerts in observance of Jewish Cincinnati Bicentennial. Known equally as one of today’s foremost composers, Pintscher’s works are frequently commissioned and performed by major international orchestras.
Matthias Pintscher opens his 21/22 season as the “Theme Composer” of Suntory Hall’s 2021 festival, including the world premiere of his work neharot which he will conduct with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra (co-commissioned with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande), an intensive week of performances with the Ensemble Intercontemporain, as well as chamber concerts. In addition, he and Ensemble Intercontemporain will give concerts in Yokohama and Moscow. In January 2022, his violin concerto written for Leila Josefowicz, Assonanza II, will be premiered by the Cincinnati Symphony under Pintscher’s baton. Pintscher will make debuts in 21/22 with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Staatskapelle Dresden, Lahti Symphony, and Musikkollegium Winterthur. He returns to the Houston Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romance, Barcelona Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra at the Holland Festival, Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Boulez Ensemble. In recent seasons, Pintscher has begun to conduct staged operas, and in 21/22 will return to the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin to lead Lohengrin, for which he gave the production’s premiere the prior season.
Recent highlights include his debut at the Vienna State Opera conducting the world premiere of Olga Neuwirth’s opera Orlando, debuts with the Montreal and Baltimore symphony orchestras, and conducting the premiere of his new work for baritone, chorus, and orchestra, performed by Georg Nigl and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks at the Musica Viva festival in February 2020.
Pintscher has held many titled positions, most recently as the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s Artist-in-Association for nine seasons. In 2018/19, he served as the Season Creative Chair for the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, as well as Artist-in-Residence at the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. An enthusiastic supporter of and mentor to students and young musicians, Pintscher was Principal Conductor of the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra from 2016-2018 and has worked with the Karajan Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic.
Matthias Pintscher began his musical training in conducting, studying with Pierre Boulez and Peter Eötvös in his early twenties, during which time composing soon took a more prominent role in his life. He rapidly gained critical acclaim in both areas of activity and continues to compose in addition to his conducting career. A prolific composer, Pintscher's music is championed by some of today's finest performing artists, orchestras, and conductors. His works have been performed by such orchestras as the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Orchestre de Paris, among many others. He is published exclusively by Bärenreiter, and recordings of his works can be found on Kairos, EMI, Teldec, Wergo, and Winter & Winter. Matthias Pintscher has been on the composition faculty of the Juilliard School since 2014.
“One of the most admired pianists of his generation” (New York Times), Inon Barnatan is celebrated for his poetic sensibility, musical intelligence, and consummate artistry. He inaugurated his tenure as Music Director of California’s La Jolla Music Society Summerfest in July 2019. He has recently released a two-volume set of Beethoven’s complete piano concertos, which he recorded for Pentatone with Alan Gilbert and London’s Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Barnatan’s 2019-2020 concerto collaborations included Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 with Nicholas McGegan and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Ravel’s G-major Concerto with the Chicago Symphony, Rachmaninov’s Third Concerto with Gilbert and the Royal Stockholm Symphony, Clara Schumann’s Concerto with the New Jersey Symphony, and a recreation of Beethoven’s legendary 1808 concert, which featured the world premieres of his Fourth Piano Concerto, Choral Fantasy, and Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, with Louis Langrée and the Cincinnati Symphony. Barnatan also played Mendelssohn, Gershwin, and Thomas Adès for his solo recital debut at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall and reunited with his frequent recital partner, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, for tours to London’s Wigmore Hall and other venues in England, and the Netherlands and Italy for Brahms and Shostakovich. In May 2020 Inon Barnatan was presented in a virtual recital by Shriver Hall Concert Series. The concert was streamed to audiences around the world.
Barnatan’s 2018-19 orchestral highlights included Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto with Gilbert and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, a complete Beethoven concerto cycle with New Jersey’s Princeton Symphony, Rachmaninov with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Israel Philharmonic, Copland with the Oregon Symphony, and Mozart with the Houston Symphony and the Australian Chamber Orchestra at Lincoln Center. Solo recitals took him to Boston’s Celebrity Series, Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, and London’s Southbank Centre, where he made his International Piano Series debut with a program of Ravel and Mussorgsky. In addition to performances with the Dover Quartet and St. Lawrence Quartet at Carnegie Hall, his chamber highlights included national tours with the Calidore Quartet and with Alisa Weilerstein, violinist Sergey Khachatryan, and percussionist Colin Currie. In summer 2019, his first season as Artistic Director of the La Jolla Music Society SummerFest, Barnatan explored the theme of transformation through programs which explored evolution in music, and collaborated with Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, visionary director and visual artist Doug Fitch, the Mark Morris Dance Group, and other artistic luminaries in a series devoted to cross-disciplinary exploration.
A regular performer with many of the world’s foremost orchestras and conductors, Barnatan served from 2014-17 as the inaugural Artist-in-Association of the New York Philharmonic. In summer 2017, he made his BBC Proms debut with the BBC Symphony at London’s Royal Albert Hall and gave the Aspen world premiere of a new piano concerto by Alan Fletcher, which he went on to reprise with the Atlanta Symphony and in a season-opening concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. Recent orchestral debuts include the Chicago, Baltimore, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Nashville, San Diego, and Seattle Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the London, Helsinki, Hong Kong, and Royal Stockholm Philharmonics. Other recent highlights include a complete Beethoven concerto cycle in Marseilles; performances of Copland’s Piano Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas in San Francisco and at Carnegie Hall; and a U.S. tour with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, playing and conducting Mozart and Shostakovich from the keyboard and premiering a newly commissioned concerto by Alasdair Nicolson. With the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä, Barnatan played Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto on New Year’s Eve, followed by a Midwest tour that culminated in Chicago, and a return to the BBC Proms in summer 2018.
Barnatan is the recipient of both a prestigious 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant and Lincoln Center’s 2015 Martin E. Segal Award, which recognizes “young artists of exceptional accomplishment.” A sought-after chamber musician, he was a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two program from 2006 to 2009, and continues to make regular CMS appearances in New York and on tour. His passion for contemporary music sees him commission and perform many works by living composers, including premieres of pieces by Thomas Adès, Sebastian Currier, Avner Dorman, Alan Fletcher, Joseph Hallman, Alasdair Nicolson, Andrew Norman, Matthias Pintscher, and others. He has given multiple solo recitals at internationally acclaimed venues including New York’s 92nd Street Y, the Celebrity Series of Boston, Chicago’s Harris Theater, the Vancouver Recital Society, and London’s Southbank Centre and Wigmore Hall. Last season, he gave collaborative recitals at Carnegie Hall and Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center with soprano Renée Fleming, and in both 2016 and 2018 he collaborated with the Mark Morris Dance Group at New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival.
Barnatan’s most recent album release is a two-volume set of Beethoven’s complete piano concertos, recorded with Alan Gilbert and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields on Pentatone. He has also released a live recording of Messiaen’s 90-minute masterpiece Des canyons aux étoiles (“From the Canyons to the Stars”), in which he played the exceptionally challenging solo piano part at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. In 2015 he released Rachmaninov & Chopin: Cello Sonatas on Decca Classics with Alisa Weilerstein, earning rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. His most recent solo recording, of Schubert’s late piano sonatas, was released by Avie in September 2013, winning praise from such publications as Gramophone and BBC Music, while his account of the great A-major Sonata (D. 959) was chosen by BBC Radio 3 as one of the all-time best recordings of the piece. His 2012 album, Darknesse Visible, debuted in the Top 25 on the Billboard Traditional Classical chart and received universal critical acclaim, being named BBC Music’s “Instrumentalist CD of the Month” and winning a coveted place on the New York Times’ “Best of 2012” list. He made his solo recording debut with a Schubert album, released by Bridge Records in 2006, that prompted Gramophone to hail him as “a born Schubertian” and London’s Evening Standard to call him “a true poet of the keyboard: refined, searching, unfailingly communicative.”
Born in Tel Aviv in 1979, Inon Barnatan started playing the piano at the age of three, when his parents discovered his perfect pitch, and made his orchestral debut at eleven. His musical education connects him to some of the 20th century’s most illustrious pianists and teachers: he studied first with Professor Victor Derevianko, a student of the Russian master Heinrich Neuhaus, before moving to London in 1997 to study at the Royal Academy of Music with Christopher Elton and Maria Curcio, a student of the legendary Artur Schnabel. Leon Fleisher has also been an influential teacher and mentor. Barnatan currently resides in New York City. For more information, visit www.inonbarnatan.com.
Henrik Heide was Associate Principal Flutist of the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras from 2014 to 2019, appointed by Maestro Louis Langrée. After a two-year absence, he is now serving as Acting Associate Principal Flute for the 2021/22 season. Prior to his appointment in Cincinnati, Henrik was a member of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, FL for two seasons under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.
He has appeared as concerto soloist with ensembles including the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and New World Symphony. As a chamber musician, Henrik appeared at the La Jolla Music Society's 2019 Summerfest.
Henrik serves as principal flutist of the Arizona Musicfest Festival Orchestra. He spent three summers as a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, and has also participated in festivals including Spoleto Festival USA, Pacific Music Festival (Sapporo, Japan), Music Academy of the West, Aspen Music Festival, Kent/Blossom Music Festival, National Repertory Orchestra, and National Orchestral Institute.
He received his Bachelor of Music degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, studying with Leone Buyse, and his Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, studying with Jeffrey Khaner.
Meet the Orchestra
Learn more about the artists of the Orchestra.