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Schwertsik’s Nachtmusiken Gets US Premiere

(April 2016)

SchwertsikKleemayrDivertime.jpg Kurt Schwertsik’s orchestral work, premiered in 2010, sees its first American performances this May.

When Gianandrea Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic premiered Kurt Schwertsik’s Nachtmusiken in January 2010, critics and audiences could see that this Vienna-born composer — no stranger to the UK — was especially adept at fusing his musical heritage with the elements that make his voice so unique among contemporary composers. At the work’s premiere, The Guardian noted, "Nachtmusiken combines the lofty with the demotic in ways that are Mahlerian in spirit, though not in its muted, spectral tone." Nachtmusiken’s status was further elevated with its commercial release in August 2011, recorded by the BBC Philharmonic (conducted by fellow Boosey & Hawkes composer HK Gruber).

For the first time, Nachtmusiken, a 25-minute orchestral journey through the Vienna nights of the 1940s, will be performed in the United States at MahlerFest in Boulder, Colorado 21–22 May. MahlerFest’s new artistic director Kenneth Woods leads the Colorado MahlerFest Orchestra in a program that also includes a performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 7.

Schwertsik describes Mahler as a ‘constant presence’ for a composer working in Vienna, and this 25-minute score hints at the atmosphere of the city that would have been familiar to Mahler at the time when he moved there to conduct and compose. His program note for Nachtmusiken also explains the nocturnal characteristics of the work, drawing on memories of Vienna in the 1940s. As a child he hid at nighttime from the bombing raids, and after the war loved to wander the streets during the frequent power cuts seeing the candlelight of city dwellers emanating from their houses onto the darkened streets. He writes:

"Not only in the loneliness of the woods
do the secrets of the night whisper:
& metaphysical thoughts prefer to roam in the dark.
I love to move through the night:
a dreamy vision, a fragmented melody blown away..."

"…a suite of occasional character pieces, an offering of fragrant Viennoiserie, evoking a series of departed spirits. Those spectral presences include Janácek, whose characteristic inflections merge and mingle as in a dream, and David Drew, the critic and writer who died last summer, who is remembered in the eulogy of a quartet of cellos, frosted by glockenspiel. In between an accordion spices a bittersweet Viennese waltz, a toy march hovers between West and East Europe and the final fugue is touched by a frisson of Mahler’s First Symphony."
The Times of London on Nachtmusiken

>  Further information on Work: Nachtmusiken

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