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Teatro La Fenice String Quartet

Sunday 25 September at 6:00 p.m.
Teatro Piccolo Arsenale
QUARTETTO D’ARCHI DEL TEATRO LA FENICE
 
Claude Lenners (1956) Zen Archiv / String Trio:
Mondschatten, silbern verschleiert (1997, 2’45”) world premiere
im schrägem Zitrinlicht, noch flackert Hoffnung (1997, 3’45”) world premiere
Blau, des Falters Flügelschlag (1997, 4’25”) world premiere
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) String quartet in C minor n.8 op.110 (1960, 20’)
George Crumb (1929) Black Angels (1970, 24’)
 
violin Roberto Baraldi, Gianaldo Tatone
viola Daniel Formentelli
cello Emanuele Silvestri
 
Inaugurated at the Music Biennale only two years ago, the String Quartet of the Teatro La Fenice is once again a guest of the Festival with its supple instrumentalists: Roberto Baraldi and Gianaldo Tatone on the violin, Daniel Formenteli on the viola and Emanuele Silvestri on the cello. The programme brings together historic works by George Crumb, with one of his most famous pieces, Black Angels, an anxiety-ridden parable on the contemporary world, and by Dmitri Shostakovich, with one of the most difficult pieces in the repertory for quartets, and the pages of composer Claude Lenners from Luxembourg, written in the Nineties.
 
Conceived during the war in Vietnam, Black Angels borrows the classic image of the fallen angel to indicate the essential polarity between Good and Evil. In its structure, which describes a journey of the soul, a powerful numerological symbolism has been discovered, “expressed, for example, in the descending E and A and D sharp, which represent the fateful numbers 7 and 13, or in a sort of ritualistic counting in various languages, including German, French, Russian, Hungarian, Japanese and Swahili”, which appear at certain points of the score (Elizabeth Croft). Along with this symbolism, there are several allusions to tonal musicin Black Angels: Elizabeth Croft also discovered a quotation from Schubert’s Death and the Maiden quartet; an original sarabanda; the B-major tonality of God-Music; references to the sequence of the Dies Irae, and other conventional musical symbolisms, such as the Diabolus in Musica (the interval of the tritone) and the Trillo del Diavolo (the “Devil’s Trill”, after Tartini). “The amplification of the stringed instruments in Black Angels– concludes Croft – is intended to produce a highly surrealistic effect. This surrealism is heightened by the use of certain unusual string effects, like the pedal tones (the intensely obscene sounds of the Devil-music); bowing on the ‘wrong’ side of the strings (to produce the viol-consort effect); trilling on the strings with the thimble-capped fingers …”
 
The Quartet n. 8 by Shostakovich reflects the tragic years of Communist totalitarianism, when the Soviet composer, at the mercy of an oppressive power, was forced to join the Party. Shostakovich himself considered this quartet as the obituary of its composer. Tradition also says that Shostakovich wrote it in three days, while he was writing the score for a film on the bombing of Dresden. Most of the piece, in five movements, borrows passages from his earlier works (Symphony n.1 op.10, Concerto n. 1 op.107 for cello) and relies on the motif he used so often, based on his initials DSCH, following the transcription of notes using alphabetical letters. “Despite the music’s almost collage-like origins, this is a piece of shattering power and emotional strength, and nowadays one of Shostakovich’s most popular pieces with audiences all over the world. It has been arranged for different combinations of instruments. Of these the most famous is by the conductor Rudolf Barshai, who called his often-played version a Chamber Symphony. In this form it is usually given the opus number 110”. (Gerard McBurney)
 
Also being presented are the two final “movements of a cycle dedicated to the string trio and entitled Zen Archiv, by composer Claude Lenners from Luxembourg, a work that invites contemplation and meditation. The starting point is a poem by Joseph von Eichendorff (in der Fremde 1810/12) of which Lenners, residing at the Villa Medici in 1991, seeks to reproduce “the electric atmosphere”: the result is Hinter den Blitzen, rot. “ In the following years, I added other movements to expand the score and make a cycle of four pieces, without numbering them simply as I, II, III and IV, but playing on the variations of colour to differentiate them, with three verses invented freely and a rhythm inspired by the initial verse by Joseph von Eichendorff. The cycle appears as follows: Mondschatten, silbern verschleiert (the shadow of the moon, veiled in silver); im schrägem Zitrinlicht, noch flackert Hoffnung (in the oblique citrine light, hope vacillates); Blau, des Falters Flügelschlag (blue, the flutter of a butterfly’s wings); Hinter den Blitzen, rot (beyond the lightning, red). This is how I conceived the other three pieces, in which the colour, embedded into a haiku type of verse, has somehow become a programme and source of inspiration” (C. Lenners).
 
Claude Lenners (Luxembourg, 1956). A composer and an active promoter of new music, Lenners studied music and musicology at the University of Human Sciences in Strasbourg with Alexander Müllenbach (composition) and at the Conservatories in Luxembourg and Strasbourg. The acknowledgments he has received include a scholarship as resident at the Villa Medici in Rome (1989-91), the First Prize in the Henri Dutilleux competition (1991), a scholarship for Darmstadt (1992), the First International Irino Prize for Chamber Music (Tokyo 1993) and the Lions Prize (Luxembourg section 1997).
He has composed for many ensembles, including Alter Ego, Asko Ensemble, Cambridge New Music Players, Ensemble Phorminx, Court-circuit, Ensemble Accroche Note, Ensemble 13, Cambridge New Music Players and the Ensemble InterContemporain. He has also written, among others, for the Ensemble Quadro, Trio à cordes de Paris, Ensemble Recherche, Ensemble d'Ame (Tokyo), United Instruments of Lucilin, Proxima Centauri, Ex Novo Ensemble, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Orchestre de l'Opéra de Tours, Orchestre de Chambre du Luxembourg Percussion, Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken and Luxembourg Percussion. He is currently composing the opera Der Turm from the radio-drama by Peter Weiss (Jean Deroyer libretto and Waut Koeken direction), which will make its debut at the Grand Théâtre du Luxembourg next October. His music is published by Éditions Lemoine (Paris), Editions Alphonse Leduc (Paris) and Noise Watchers Unlimited (Luxembourg).
Since 1992, he has taught analysis, composition and digital music at the Conservatory in Luxembourg.
In 1999, he founded the electronic music association Noise Watchers Unlimited and from 2000 to 2005 he was art director for the new music Festival Rainy Days.