29 March 2015

Szymanowski + Lutosławski and the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin

Last month, I was invited by a friend (who I previously met as a Couchsurfer I hosted) who now lives in Berlin to go with him to a concert. Apparently, the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin is playing in the Philharmonie, and the program involves four relatively modern pieces. They were playing Karol Szymanowski's Concert Overture in E Major, as well as the Stabat Mater Op. 53. They also played Witold Lutosławski's Symphony No. 4, as well as the Musique funèbre.

They first played the Concert Overture, followed by the Symphony No. 4. After the break, they played the Musique funèbre, followed by the Stabat Mater. However, if I were the one arranging the program, I would reverse the first and second halves of the program, given what I heard of the music. After all, I feel like I am more a fan of Lutosławski's music than Szymanowski's. But then again, I might have a bias for more modern music.

The Concert Overture in E Major was pleasant to listen to, yet in my opinion, didn't have any memorable parts. But then I lost my musical training ages ago. The Symphony No. 4 on the other hand was brilliant. It was written in 1992, premiered in 1993 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and was a tour de force of orchestration. It calls for a full orchestra, as well as two harps, a piano, and a full percussion section. Wow, the use of percussive elements in the piece was just amazing. It was a rather short piece for a symphony, but it was well-packed with plenty of musical goodies that I enjoyed listening to a lot.

After the break, they performed the Musique funèbre, which was orchestrated only for string orchestra. The cello began and ended the piece. It started with a quiet section, and the momentum eventually builds up until it slowly fades again, slowly ending the piece, until in the end, only a single cello performs. It was definitely quite a tragic piece.

Finally, the Stabat Mater was performed, complete with full choir and three soloists. It was sung in Polish. I liked it, but I didn't like it enough the way I liked the other two pieces performed immediately before. There were times when it was rather loud, and the sounds just clashed against each other. I supposed I don't like Szymanowski too much.

Overall, however, I still had a great time, and I always think that it is fortunate to be living in a city like Berlin where there are plenty of cultural offerings one can partake in.

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