Concerts place Beethoven masterworks alongside music by Gerald Barry including the world premiere of Barry’s Viola Concerto and his setting of Nietzsche, The Eternal Recurrence
Beethoven Symphonies 7 & 8 / Barry Viola Concerto
Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden - 18 May
Barbican, London - 21 May (broadcast live on BBC Radio 3)
Beethoven Symphony 9 / Barry The Eternal Recurrence
St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich - 25 May
Barbican, London - 26 May
“Beethoven’s music is both political and philosophical; the Ninth Symphony is his most overtly philosophical piece. Gerald’s ‘The Eternal Recurrence’ is a fantastic assault on the Alps of Nietzsche which I think has a kinship with Beethoven; there’s a very similar energy and an early romantic atmosphere to Gerald’s music. Like Beethoven, he’s a composer who shakes you by the collar and says ‘Listen!’ Thomas Adès
Thomas Adès and Britten Sinfonia’s acclaimed three year Beethoven Symphony Cycle reaches its conclusion in May with performances of Beethoven’s final three symphonies. Adès, who describes the symphonies as “combustible ... there’s a nakedness to every element that is new” interleaves Beethoven’s masterworks with the audacious music of the Irish composer - and Beethoven devotee - Gerald Barry.
The world premiere of Barry’s Viola Concerto, with soloist Lawrence Power will be heard alongside Beethoven’s seventh and eighth symphonies. Commenting on his new work, Barry says: “I partly discovered music through exercises. I did not distinguish between these exercises and Art. They were the same to me as Mozart or Schubert. Exercises have always been pure things for me, clean, unaffected by dreaded profundity. They are liberating and free, and I always feel good psychologically and physically after playing them. This Viola Concerto is I suppose a homage to their ecstasy.”
Beethoven’s universal ninth symphony is performed alongside Gerald Barry’s The Eternal Recurrence, a setting of texts from Friedrich Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra for soprano (Jennifer France) and orchestra, which Barry describes as using ‘everyday musical gestures to produce something feverish and brilliant… rather like the familiar objects in still lifes”. For Beethoven’s mighty Choral symphony, Adès and Britten Sinfonia are joined by Britten Sinfonia Voices (Director Eamonn Dougan), the Choir of Royal Holloway and soloists Jennifer France (soprano), Ed Lyon (tenor), Matthew Rose (bass) and Christianne Stotjin (alto).
Concerts take place at London’s Barbican Hall, where Britten Sinfonia is an Associate Ensemble, at Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, where it is Resident Orchestra, and at St Andrew’s Hall Norwich, where the orchestra enjoys a residency, as part of Norfolk and Norwich Festival. The Barbican concert on 21 May will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 Live in Concert.
The complete Britten Sinfonia/Thomas Adès Beethoven Symphony Cycle has been recorded for future release as part of worldwide celebrations of Beethoven 250.