29 July 2018

Schneller, Bartetzki, Tsukamoto, and Kyriakides

I must say I love the offerings in Berlin when it comes to contemporary classical music. A month ago, we went to the Konzerthaus, a concert hall in the middle of the city, in fancy Gendarmenmarkt. This concert hall actually has several halls, and yes I have seen a couple of performances here, but I haven't been to a concert held in the Werner-Otto-Saal, a black box theatre inside this concert hall. This concert, featuring four contemporary works for piano and percussion, would be my first event.

The names of the composers were all unknown to me: Oliver Schneller, Andre Bartetzki, Eiko Tsukamoto, and Yannis Kyriakides. Three of the pieces were premieres: that was the first time it was performed in public. And sure enough, three of the composers were in the audience, and had the chance to talk a little bit about the pieces that they wrote.

The performers played Resonant Space (2007) by Oliver Schneller, for two pianos, two percussionists, and electronic music; Eutropia (2018) by Andre Bartetzki, for piano, percussion, electronic music, and live video projection; Bild für Bild (2018) by Eiko Tsukamoto, for two pianos and two percussionists; and Elsewhere (2018) by Yannis Kyriakides, for two pianos, two percussionists, audio, and video.

Notable was the use of electronic music and video projection. In fact, in the fourth piece, the video projection made for a different listening experience. It almost was like an opera: there is a story happening on the stage, and music was just an accompaniment. In Elsewhere, the composer projected several of Arthur Rimbaud's letters written from the time he was in Cyprus. The music was of course prominent, but the mind was sort of having this internal battle, at least for me, as it was trying to push the music back to the background, but in fact, it was too bold and prominent to remain in the background. It was definitely a very different and interesting listening experience.

As usual I enjoyed this concert. I am definitely glad that there's enough interest in contemporary classical music here in Berlin for works like these to be performed.

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