Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Wien Modern 2012 announced

Wien Modern announced its 2012 festival today and here is a translation of their press release I made earlier:

Wien Modern celebrates its 25th season in October and this year’s festival will open on the 22nd with Kloing! and Hommage à Klaus Nomi by Olga Neuwirth. The opening concert will take place at the Theater an der Wien and is the first collaboration between our two organizations. The Klangforum Wien will play under the direction of Clement Power with Andrew Watts (countertenor), Marino Formenti (piano) and Lillevan (video and live video).

Olga Neuwirth is the subject of this year’s composer focus, sponsored by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation. To mark the anniversary artistic director Matthias Lošek has invited Lothar Knessl, one of the festival’s founders and grand seigneur of contemporary music [sic], to curate a series of concerts. Knessl, who turns 85 this April, will present his personal choices from the last 24 years and music new to the festival, or as he puts it, ‘what deserves to be played again and what has not yet been played.’ Excitement is guaranteed!
The 2012 Erste Bank composition prize has gone to Beat Furrer, whose prize commission will be performed by the Klangforum Wien on 3rd November at the Konzerthaus.

I wasn’t going to comment but can’t resist, and not just to say that Wien Modern desperately needs a new copy editor. It’s always worth remembering that without Beat Furrer’s advocacy we wouldn’t have the Klangforum. But yet another prize? The Erste Bank prize is a commissioning vehicle which comes with a few thousand euros, and there are many promising composers working in Austria who could do with even that (not to mention the recognition) a lot more than Furrer, for whom this kind of cash will make little material impact. Tomasz Skweres, Sonja Huber and Lukas Neudinger are three that immediately come to mind; all young, though that shouldn’t disqualify them, and hard-working, with a decent handful of substantial works already behind them. And what about us, the public, who have to listen to this commission? Don’t we deserve to hear something written by a composer for whom this prize actually means something? Something ambitious we won’t forget in a hurry? And does a short piece for bass flute and double bass really fit that description? Because that’s what Furrer’s composing.

By far the more positive news is that the composer focus will be on Olga Neuwirth, though starting with the Nomi Hommage (not, it must be said, her best piece) somewhat misjudges the level of audience Wien Modern attracts. The failing of a recent London Sinfonietta In Portrait concert shows that with Neuwirth the more challenging music cannot be avoided if her dialectic – the difficult works are rarely as inaccessible as they first appear and the more straightforward works often get understood with as much clarity in one sense as they do another – is to be appreciated. And looking at the full Neuwirth programme, which Wien Modern hasn’t released (it’s on her website), there are a few missed opportunities. I don’t mean things like a full staging of Bählamms Fest or Lost Highway – though if the TadW is looking to take over the Kammeroper and co-operate with Wien Modern, then why not? – but pieces which haven’t even been recorded yet, like the Jelinek oratorio Aufenthalt or the orchestral work anaptyxis. That said, Olga has clearly been involved and it’s not a bad programming effort – certainly an improvement on the Cerha focus last year (which started big with the complete Spiegel and then tailed off rather embarrassingly). Details are as follows:

"Hommage à Klaus Nomi - a songplay in 9 fits"
Marino Formenti, Andrew Watts, Klangforum Wien
Eröffnung von Wien Modern, Theater an der Wien

"Construction in space"
Klangforum Wien

"Remnants of songs...An Amphigory"
RSO Wien, Antoine Tamestit, Dir.: Susanna Mälki; Konzerthaus Wien

"incidendo/ fluido" "In Nacht und Eis" "...ad aduras... in memoriam H."
"Akroate Hadal"
"torsion: transparent variation"
Talea Ensemble, Konzerthaus Wien

"...ce qui arrive..."
ICE Ensemble, Konzerthaus Wien

16.11. 2012
Orchestra piece to be announced
RSO-Wien; Dir.: Cornelius Meister
Musikverein Wien

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