Friday, October 3, 2014

Ask Andriessen on Twitter

Boosey and Hawkes hosts a Twitter Q&A with Louis Andriessen.
Questions were submitted until today, and ‘answer session’ is tomorrow (Saturday) morning here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hoketus in Belgrade

Today Hoketus will be performed in a legendary Studio 6 of Radio Belgrade as part of the concert dedicated to (post)minimalist composers. Pieces of Michael Nyman, Steve Reich and Milos Raickovic will also be at the program. To follow the concert live at Radio Belgrade 3 go here.

The photograph above shows pan flutes made of plastic pipes by composer Jasna Velickovic in 2004 for the performance of Hoketus in Belgrade. The instruments have only Hoketus tones and will be used again at this concert.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Photo Log

Heiner Goebbels and Louis Andriessen, Kraftzentrale, Duisburg
Monica Germino and Louis Andriessen, Kraftzentrale, Duisburg

Friday, August 22, 2014

De Materie Review

De Materie, Louis Andriessen, directed by Heiner Goebbels and Peter Rundel. 
August 15, Kraftzentrale, Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord. Repeat .: 22, 23, 24/8.

Review by Frits van der Waa (published in Dutch in De Volkskrant, Monday, 18 August)
De Materie, Part II Hadewijch, Photo (c) Wonge Bergmann

What have zeppelins to do with the seventeenth-century naval industry, or a flock of sheep with a sonnet by the Dutch poet Willem Kloos? Nothing at all. Nevertheless, the intuitive choices director Heiner Goebbels has made in his staging of Louis Andriessen’s De Materie Copper are convincing. Goebbels, himself a composer, in a way adopts the approach of Andriessen himself, who in 1989 in this four-part piece of music theatre succeeded in connecting the most diverse musical, literary and philosophical elements in a balanced way.
On the first day of the Ruhtriennale, the six-week festival that is led by Goebbels, he treated his audience to a memorable performance. Apart from the first series of performances directed by Robert Wilson at the Dutch Opera De Materie never has been performed in staged form again, up to now. Especially in musical terms, a lot of water has passed under the bridge in those years: the performance by the Ensemble Modern Orchestra and solo and choral singers, conducted by Peter Rundel and enhanced by an excellent sound projection, transcends the already respectable level of previous performances in its rhythmic precision, homogeneity and especially in the blending of the sound colors. In addition, the Duisburg Kraftzentrale with its oversized dimensions turns out to be prove a perfect venue for the "terrible symphony orchestra" that Andriessen had in mind when creeating this work.
De Materie can be seen as an opera in which ideas rather than characters occupy the stage, as a symphony with singing protagonists or as an essay on the relationship between exact thinking, artistic intuition and human emotion: there is no doubt, though, that this work, with its vast architecture, extended arcs, and a musical substance encompassing minimal and maxinmal idioms, requires a form of dramatization, even though it holds its own as 'pure' music as well. It is remarkable that Wilson's visualization twenty-five years ago, mainly made us of a frontal plane, like a shadow play, whereas Goebbels literally goes in-depth. Astounding is the moment in the third part, De Stijl, where in the distance at the back of the hall, two dancers appear, looking so small that they,for a moment, seem little puppets. And in the very part where Wilson introduced a solo piano, moving from left to right across the stage, Goebbels, at first unnoticably, manages to shift the complete orchestra  gradually to the rear and back - a technical achievement thatis almost as inexplicable as the invisible guiding hand that herds the sheep across the plaing field.
With the exception of that swinging third part, in which three luminous discs, decked in Mondrian colors, provide a lively visual play, circling in the air, Goebbels' staging, albeit spectacular, shows marked restraint. In the second part, with the mystic Hadewych as the centralfigure, the minute variations in imagery are almost static. Evgeniya Sotnikova sings the Middle Dutch very convincingly, and tenor Robin Trischler is just as proficient in his delivery of the old-fashioned wordings of the early atomic theorist Gorlaeus. The eight singers of ChorWerk Ruhr are a perfect fit for Andriessens chanted harmonies.
From the relentless hammering in the first part to the serene bell sounds in the fourth, that burgeon to a grand crescendo, Goebels’s staging emphasizes that De Materie is a work of international scope and substance, a magnum opus that Andriessen actually has not surpassed in the intervening years, especially where it comes to the balance between rigor and playfulness, between form and content - a balance that, incidentally, just as twenty-five years ago, is disrupted by the recited monologue by Madame Curie that makes the impression of an an uncomfortable vacuum after all that went before. Inexplicable that a composer who knows so much about the power of music eventually gave primacy to the infinitely weaker force of the spoken word.

Monday, August 18, 2014

De Materie Performance Photos

De Materie, Part I, Photo (c) Wonge Bergmann
 De Materie, Part I, Photo (c) Wonge Bergmann
 De Materie, Part II Hadewijch, Photo (c) Wonge Bergmann

De Materie, Part III De Stijl, Photo (c) Wonge Bergmann
 De Materie, Part III De Stijl, Photo (c) Wonge Bergmann
De Materie, Part IV, Photo (c) Wonge Bergmann
De Materie, Part IV, Photo (c) Wonge Bergmann

Monday, August 11, 2014

De Materie, Part IV, Libretto

Dreams of beautiful death and eternal desire,
Splendour of catching and feeling in steady arms,
Beauty, pressed to the loudly pounding heart,

Splendour of holding each other in a fiery embrace,
Blessedness released in wordless compassion,
Blessedness itself in the lifting of all pain.

O, desire! The billow break over me,
By the dark spray of the thrilled waves,
To see how life perishes around me.

But not Love, while staring
At the quiet glow of your open face,
United with you, journeying with you to eternity ....!

Madame Curie (spoken):
... Pierre, my Pierre. There you lie, like a wounded man with bandaged head resting in sleep.

... Your lips that I once called greedy are pale and discoloured. Your little beard is turning gray.

... We placed you in your coffin on Saturday morning, and I supported your head as they carried you. We kissed your cold face for the last time. Then l placed some branches of periwinkle from the garden in the coffin, together with the little portrait of me that you called “the diligent student,” and that you loved.

... Your coffin is closed and I will never see you again. I forbid them to cover it with the terrible black drapes. I cover it with flowers and sit near it.

The importance of radium for the point of view of theories in general has been decisive. The history of the discovery and isolation of the substance has delivered the proof for the hypothesis that I formulated, according to which ... The chemical work needed to isolate the radium in the form of a pure salt, and to characterize it as a new element was above all my work ... And the substances which l have termed radioactive ... l have used ... l have accomplished ... l have determined ... l have obtained ....
This work (…) is very closely related to the work that we performed together. I therefore believe that I correctly interpret the action of the Academy of Sciences when I conclude that the great distinction that they have bestowed upon me has been motivated by this collaborative work, and is therefore also an homage to the memory of Pierre Curie.

My dearest Pierre, you are never for one moment out of my thoughts, my head bursts, and my thoughts are muddled. I cannot comprehend that I must continue to live without seeing you, without smiling as the dear partner of my life. My Pierre, I arose after sleeping quite well, relatively calm. It is scarcely a quarter of an hour later, and I wish to shout like a wild beast.

... The whole world is talking. But I see Pierre on his deathbed.

My little Pierre, I would like to be able to tell you that the golden ram is flowering, that the wisteria and the hawthorn and the irises are in bloom—you would have loved that. I would also like to tell you that I have been appointed to your chair, and that there were even some imbeciles who congratulated me.

I spend all my time in the laboratory. I do not think that there is anything that I will be able to enjoy apart from perhaps scientific work—and no, not even that. For should I succeed, I could not bear it if you were not aware of it.

Excerpts from:
·       Willem Kloos, Verzen (Verses), 1894/1948
·       diary kept by Marie Curie after the death of her husband in 1906
·       Marie Curie’s acceptance speech upon receiving the Nobel Prize in 1911, as recorded in Françoise Giroud, Une femme honorable (Librairie Arthème Fayard, 1981)