Aurora welcomes 2022/23 Kings Place Resident Artist Laura van der Heijden for a rich programme of contrasting musical architectures spanning two hundred years of sonic innovation.
CPE Bach’s fiery Concerto in A minor offers a striking foretaste of the ‘sturm und drang’ (storm and stress) style. Cello and orchestra engage in a dramatic dialogue between turbulence and lyricism, with the soloist floating heart-stopping cantilenas against explosive orchestral riffs. ‘We have only one Bach, whose manner is entirely original…’ wrote a contemporary critic: here’s fine example of his genius.
As with much of Schubert’s catalogue, the ‘Great’ C-major symphony was not recognised as a work of genius until after the composer’s death in 1828 at the tragically young age of just 31. Later ‘rediscovered’ and championed as a masterpiece by other composers including Schumann and Mendelssohn, the symphony established Schubert as the Romantic heir to Beethoven, a sublime craftsman and musical innnovator. Reviewing the inaugural publication of the score in 1840, Schumann effused: ‘Here, beside sheer musical mastery of the technique of composition, is life in every fibre, color in the finest shadings, meaning everywhere, the acutest etching of detail.’
The programme opens with a very different kind of sonic experiment: György Ligeti’s seminal 1968 work Ramifications, a classic of what the composer termed his ‘musical net-formations’, in which tiny musical fragments are intricately layered to create an uncanny constellation of sound. Scored for two groups of six string players tuned a quarter-tone apart, the piece eschews conventions of rhythm and harmony, creating a disorienting and completely distinct musical affect. The composer writes: ‘In only a few dense places approximative quarter-tone clusters result; apart from that we find a totally new kind of “uncertain” harmony, as though the harmonies had rotted: they have a strong taste and decay has permeated the music.’