Our principal guest conductor is back at Berwaldhallen
The world-class baritone interprets Bach
The legendary cellist in Dutilleux’ cello concerto
JACEK DEHNEL AND PIOTR TARCZYŃSKI
A conversation about creation in a time of boundaries
Mäkelä & Mattei / Art as Resistance
TODAY’S TALK FROM GDAŃSK
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MÄKELÄ & MATTEI / ART AS RESISTANCE
Saturday, September 11. Principal Guest Conductor Klaus Mäkelä leads the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Radio Choir, world-renowned baritone Peter Mattei and legendary cellist Miklós Perényi in a concert where Bach’s baroque universe is crossed with Stravinsky’s cosmos. In today’s talk, broadcast from Gdańsk, we meet author Jacek Dehnel and historian Piotr Tarczyński, both based in Poland, in a conversation about the conditions for artistic creation in a time pervaded by borders. All festival talks are shown on screen in Berwaldhallen and can also be experienced on Berwaldhallen Play.
BALTIC SEA STUDIO SEP 11 - DIGITAL BROADCAST
Tonight’s guests in the Baltic Sea studio are Stefan Ingvarsson, journalist, Astrid Menasanch Tobiesen, director/playwright and musicians. Today’s host is Erik Blix. The broadcast is in English and starts at 17.45 CET.
ART AS RESISTANCEBerwaldhallen
How does one create freely in a society permeated by prohibitions? How does one continue working in spite of the pandemic? In today´s talk, broadcast from the Baltic Sea Festivals new collaboration partner St Johns Center in Gdańsk, married couple Jacek Dehnel and Piotr Tarczyński meet in a conversation about artistic creation in a time of borders – brought about by both the pandemic and political sanctions. The conversation is based on the profound cultural and political changes that are currently taking place in Poland.
Jacek Dehnel is a multi-award-winning author, poet and translator, and also works as a painter and artist . He has published eight poetry collections. He has also been noted for his involvement in political and social issues on social media, and for his work for authors’ working conditions in Poland. Piotr Tarczyński is a translator, author and historian. Dehnel and Tarczyński have written four crime novels together, under the Maryla Szymiczkowa pseudonym. The talk is led by Anna Dziewit-Meller, author, journalist and editor
Jacek Dehnel, author
Jacek Dehnel (PL) (b. 1980 in Gdańsk) – poet, novelist, translator. Author of translations, eight volumes of poems, five novels, several volumes of shorter prose, among other works. Winner of awards such as the 2005 Kościelski Award, and the 2006 Polityka Passport Award. Dehnel lives in Warsaw. Under the pseudonym of Maryla Szymiczkowa, he and Tarczyński have written a series of detective stories about Mrs Szczupaczyńska, set at the end of the 19th century in Cracow. So far, four volumes have been published.
Piotr Tarczyński, author
Piotr Tarczyński (PL) (b. 1983 in Cracow) – historian and translator with a PhD in American Studies from the Jagiellonian University. His texts on American politics and popular culture have been published in such periodicals as Liberal Culture and Tygodnik Powszechny, and on OKO.press. He co-hosts the so called American Podcast. Tarczyński lives in Warsaw. Under the pseudonym of Maryla Szymiczkowa, he and Dehnel have written a series of detective stories about Mrs Szczupaczyńska, set at the end of the 19th century in Cracow. So far, four volumes have been published.
Anna Dziewit-Meller, moderator, author and journalist
Anna Dziewit-Meller (PL), is an author and journalist. She contributes regularly to news magazine Polityka as a columnist, runs book site bukbuk.pl, and is an editor at publishing corporate group Foksal Publishing Group.
Length: 45 minutes
All talks in English
MÄKELÄ & MATTEIBerwaldhallen
From Bach’s baroque universe to Stravinsky’s cosmos. Principal Guest Conductor Klaus Mäkelä leads the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, world-renowned baritone Peter Mattei, and legendary cellist Miklós Perényi in a magnificent concert with music that spans centuries. In addition, the Swedish Radio Choir performs Bach’s marvellously beautiful Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich.Read more
There is a struggle between good and evil in Russian folk tale The Firebird. With the magical bird by his side, Prince Ivan manages to rescue twelve princesses from an evil wizard, helped by dance and song. The firebird is the Russian equivalent of the Phoenix of Greek mythology, and similarly symbolises rebirth and hope, something that we need now more than ever.
When Igor Stravinsky, aged only 27, was asked by Sergei Diaghilev, who ran the Ballets Russes in Paris, to compose the ballet music for The Firebird, many prominent Russian composers had either declined the offer, or tried and failed. In spite of his lack of experience, Stravinsky bravely took on the task. He composed a complex and driven piece that saw great success at the premiere, choreographed by Michel Fokine, in May, 1910. Over the following years, Stravinsky and Diaghilev collaborated intensely, and the result, three years later, was modernist dance drama The Rite of Spring.
The equally dreamy and dramatic tone of The Firebird can also be found in one of the world’s most played cello pieces, Tout un monde lointain by Henri Dutilleux. The sublime tone of the cello against an enigmatic orchestral sound takes us to a world far away, one that exists beyond reality, perhaps the world we yearn for. The five movements for cello and orchestra are inspired by texts from Charles Baudelaire’s poetry in Les Fleurs du mal.
Dutilleux worked on Tout un monde between 1967 and 1970, and created the cello part with Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, to whom he also dedicated the piece. In the Swedish Radio concert hall Berwaldhallen, Hungarian world-class cellist Miklós Perényi is the soloist.
Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata 150 also expresses yearning for something higher. Using hymn Nach dir, Herrn, verlanget mich (I yearn for you, my Lord), which is about suffering on Earth, and the hope of salvation through God, as a starting point, Bach composed a cantata of seven movements for a four-part choir and baroque ensemble. It’s likely that the 15-minute piece saw the light of day when Bach was working in Arnstadt in 1707, and much points to it being the very first church cantata he ever composed. Solo cantata Ich habe genug was written twenty years later, for Candlemas, 1727. The piece, comprising five movements, was written for bass voice, oboe, two violins, viola, and basso continuo. The lamenting upward movements of the oboe are interwoven with those of the bass soloist in this melancholic piece, which Bach himself was so fond of that he created several versions of it. In one arrangement for a soprano soloist, which he completed in 1731, the oboe has been replaced by a flute part.
The soloist at the Swedish Radio concert hall Berwaldhallen is Peter Mattei, who, apart from having toured around the world with the big opera parts, also feels at home with Bach. For instance, he gave a celebrated performance of the Matthew Passion at the Baltic Sea Festival in 2019.
The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra is known worldwide as one of Europe’s most versatile orchestras with an exciting and varied repertoire and a constant striving to break new ground. The orchestra’s high-quality music making as well as its collaborations with internationally renowned composers, conductors and soloists have been rewarded with numerous prizes and accolades.
Permanent home of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 1979 is Berwaldhallen, the Swedish Radio’s concert hall. In addition to the seated audience, the orchestra reaches millions of listeners on the radio and the web through Klassiska konserten i P2. Several concerts are also broadcast and streamed on Berwaldhallen Play and in Swedish Television, offering the audience more opportunities to come as close as possible to one of the world’s top orchestras.
“The orchestra has a unique combination of humility, sensibility and musical imagination”, says Daniel Harding, Music Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2007. “I have never had a concert with the orchestra where they haven’t played as though their lives depended on it!” The orchestra is also proud to have Klaus Mäkelä as its Principal Guest Conductor since 2018.
The first radio orchestra was founded in 1925, the same year that the Swedish Radio Service began its broadcasts. The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra received its current name in 1967. Through the years, the orchestra has had several distinguished Music Directors. Two of them, Herbert Blomstedt and Esa-Pekka Salonen, have since been appointed Conductors Laureate, as well as Valery Gergiev, a regular guest conductor and co-founder of the Baltic Sea Festival.
The Swedish Radio Choir
For more than 90 years, the Swedish Radio Choir has contributed to the development of the Swedish a cappella tradition. Under the leadership of legendary conductor Eric Ericson, the choir earned great international renown. It is still hailed as one of the best choirs in the world. The choir members’ ability to switch between powerful solo performances and seamlessly integrating themselves in the ensemble creates a unique and dynamic instrument praised by critics and music lovers alike, as well as by the many guest conductors who explore and challenge the choir’s possibilities.
Permanent home of the Swedish Radio Choir since 1979 is Berwaldhallen, the Swedish Radio’s concert hall. In addition to the seated audience, the choir reaches millions of listeners on the radio and the web through Klassiska konserten i P2. Several concerts are also broadcast and streamed on Berwaldhallen Play, offering the audience more opportunities to come as close as possible to one of the world’s top choirs.
With the 2020–2021 season, Kaspars Putniņš begins his tenure as the tenth Music Director of the Swedish Radio Choir. Since January 2019, Marc Korovitch is the choirmaster of the Swedish Radio Choir with responsibility for the ensemble’s continued artistic development. Two of the orchestra’s former Music Directors, Tõnu Kaljuste and Peter Dijkstra, were appointed Conductors Laureate in November 2019. Both maintain a close relationship with the choir and make regular guest appearances.
The Swedish Radio Choir was founded the same year as the Swedish Radio Service began its broadcasts and the choir had its first concert in May 1925. Right from the start, the choir had high ambitions with a conscious aim to perform contemporary music.
Klaus Mäkelä, Principal Guest Conductor
Klaus Mäkelä has been the Principal Guest Conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since the autumn of 2018. He is Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor at the Oslo Philharmonic, and Artistic Advisor at Orchestre de Paris, where he will begin work as Music Director in 2022. He is Artist in Association with the Tapiola Sinfonietta, and Artistic Director of the Turku Music Festival.
During the 2020/2021 season, Mäkelä made his debut with the Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Concertgebouw Orchestra, among others. He has also visited the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, the Gothenburg Symphony, and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, and continued his collaboration with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Tapiola Sinfonietta.
Mäkelä studied conducting with Jorma Panula, and cello with Marko Ylönen, Timo Hanhinen and Hannu Kiiski at the Sibelius Academy. As a cello soloist, he has performed with a number of Finnish orchestras, as a chamber musician with members of the French Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and at several Finnish festivals. He plays on a Giovanni Grancino from 1698, lent to him by the OP Art Foundation. In 2019, he was awarded the Finnish National Prize for his contributions to Finnish art and culture.
Miklós Perényi, cello
Miklós Perényi is recognized as one of the great cellists of his generation, with a distinctive, subtly nuanced sound matched by extraordinary musicality. Born in Hungary, he began cello lessons at the age of five with Miklós Zsámboki, a student of David Popper. At the age of nine, he gave his first concert in Budapest, and between 1960 and 1964, he studied with Enrico Mainardi in Rome, and with Ede Banda in Budapest.
In 1974, Miklós Perényi joined the faculty at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, where he still holds a professorship. Perényi has appeared in the world’s major musical centers, performing with the best orchestras around Europe, Asia and North and South America – such as on a tour with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle in 2013. His festival engagements have included Edinburgh, Lucerne, Prague, Salzburg, Vienna, Hohenems, Warsaw, Berlin, Kronberg, and the Pablo Casals Festival in Prades, France.
His repertoire ranges from the 17th century to the present. One of his closest chamber music partners is pianist András Schiff. Beyond performing and teaching, he also devotes his energy to composition of works for solo cello and for instrumental ensembles of various sizes. Miklós Perényi’s numerous recordings include releases for Hungaroton, EMI-Quint, Sony Classical, Decca, col legno, Teldec, Erato and Wigmore Hall’s own label. Perényi’s ECM release of Beethoven’s complete works for cello and piano, with András Schiff, won the Cannes Classical Award in 2005; his latest solo recording with ECM, of works by Britten, Bach and Ligeti, was released in early 2012 to critical acclaim. Exactly forty years after his first complete recording of the six Bach Suites, Miklós Perényi recorded them again for the Hungaroton label, published in October, 2020.
Peter Mattei, baritone
In the winter of 2020, baritone Peter Mattei sang his first Wozzeck, the title role of Alban Berg’s opera, at the Metropolitan in New York. In January, 2020, he also performed Schubert’s Winterreise with pianist Lars-David Nilsson at Carnegie Hall in New York. Last season, the same duo went on an acclaimed Nordic concert tour with Winterreise, which led to an album recording as well as a TV version for SVT.
During 2020, Peter also appeared in the title role of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at both the Metropolitan, and at Wiener Staatsoper. The role gave him his international breakthrough in Peter Brooks’ production at Aix-en-Provence, and remains one of his favourite roles. He has since performed it at prominent venues, such as the Royal Swedish Opera, the Scottish Opera, the Opéra National de Paris, and the Teatro alla Scala.
Peter made a sensational debut performance as Amfortas in Wagner’s Parsifal at the Metropolitan in the spring of 2013. The following season, he saw yet another success as Wolfram in Tannhäuser at Staatsoper Berlin. Among his many other roles are the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro, the title role of Billy Budd, Don Fernando in Fidelio, and Pentheus in Daniel Börtz’ The Bacchae, directed by Ingmar Bergman at the Royal Swedish Opera.
Emmanuel Laville, oboe
Malin Broman, concertmaster
Malin Broman is First Concertmaster of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and an internationally sought-after soloist, having visited the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Copenhagen Philharmonic, and the Gothenburg Symphony, among others. She has been Artistic Director of Musica Vitae since 2015, and succeeded Sakari Oramo as Artistic Director of the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra in 2019. She has also been the Artistic Director of the Trondheim Soloists, Oulu Symphony Orchestra, the Gävle Symphony Orchestra, and the ACO Collective – the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s string ensemble.
Over the last few years, Broman has performed world premieres of violin concertos by Helen Grime, Britta Byström, Andrea Tarrodi and Daniel Nelson, and recorded both Carl Nielsen’s and Britta Byström’s concertos. Her recording of Mendelssohn’s double concerto for violin and piano with Musica Vitae and Simon Crawford Phillips was nominated for a Grammy in 2019. She has also made many recordings with celebrated ensemble the Kungsbacka Piano Trio. In the spring of 2020, Broman filmed a noted recording of her playing all eight parts of Felix Mendelssohn’s string octet.
Malin Broman is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, and Professor of Viola at the Edsbergs Institute of Music. In the spring of 2019, she was awarded H.M. the King’s eighth size medal for her considerable contributions to the Swedish music industry. She plays a Stradivarius violin from 1709 and a Bajoni viola from 1861, borrowed from the Järnåker Foundation.
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH: Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich, BWV 150
Much is shrouded in darkness when it comes to the conception of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata No. 150, but today, it is generally said that it may be the very earliest of his surviving cantatas. He probably composed it during his time in Arnstadt, which he left in July of 1707 to move to Mühlhausen. Since the motif of the seventh and final movement can be traced back to a chaconne by Johann Pachelbel, the cantata could be intended as a celebration of this composer, who died in 1706.
The text of Nach dir is, in part, from Psalm 25, and concerns, like the psalm does, the world’s suffering and God’s salvation as something to yearn for. The remainder of the text is rhyming poetry in various metres. The theme, here too, is that humanity faces many difficulties, but that salvation comes from trust in God.
The cantata is the fruit of the creative joy of an innovative and imaginative composer. Despite its length of only 14 minutes, the expression of the piece, written for a four-part harmony choir and baroque ensemble, changes a number of times. Following a melancholy, instrumental opening, yearning for salvation is illustrated with long, chromatic lines in the vocal harmonies. Shortly thereafter, an almost laughing weaving of harmonies begins, accompanying the text’s promise of the enemy’s absent triumphs.
In terzetto Zedern müssen von den Winden, the basso continuo represents the rustling cedars while the singers stand, immovable in the wind. The cantata ends with a magnificent finale in the shape of a chaconne. Its baseline inspired the finale of Johannes Brahms’ fourth symphony.
HENRI DUTILLEUX: Tout un monde lointain
The brush moving like a breeze across the snare drum, the deep sound of the cello in a string of notes, and then the soft ring of the cymbal. Tout un monde lointain (A Whole Distant World) is suggestive and congruent with its title. Instrument after instrument joins the sound, in dialogue with the cello, and the listener is taken out into a cosmos full of life and mysticism, as the drama increases. The largely introspective and meditative piece, comprising five movements, also includes solitary violent outbursts, not least in the finale, where the music suddenly lands in a cello tremolo to then completely cease, following repeated climaxes.
Henri Dutilleux worked on the cello concerto from 1967 to 1970, in close collaboration with Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, who performed the premiere of the piece with the Orchestre de Paris in Aix-en-Provence on the 25th of July, 1970, led by Serge Baudo.
The title of the piece is borrowed from French symbolist Charles Baudelaire’s at the time very controversial poetry collection The Flowers of Evil (Les Fleurs du mal). In each of the cello concerto’s five movements, Dutilleux has used a text fragment from the collection as the starting point. Though he took great care to ensure that the movements wouldn’t be seen as programmed illustrations to the poems, he tended to choose words whose images could have musical equivalents, such as in the fourth movement, Miroirs, where the violins mirror the theme of the cello, accompanied by the harp.
Tout un monde includes passages that are reminiscent of Stravinsky’s complex rhythms in The Rite of Spring, and the music frequently brings to mind Debussy’s mosaic-like sounds. But on the whole, the cello concerto is, of course, a work in its own right. Its sensitive orchestration and equally beautiful and virtuosic solo part have made it one of the most played pieces on the cello repertoire.
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH: Ich habe genug, BWV 82
Presenting a child and sacrificing a lamb or two doves in the temple, 40 days after the child’s birth, was a Jewish tradition that coincided with the mother’s purification. This is also something Mary did 40 days after Jesus was born. In the temple, she met the old man Simeon, who immediately recognised baby Jesus as the Messiah, and burst out in a song of praise: ‘Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation’.
The Feast of Purification is celebrated in memory of this event. Monasteries use Simeon’s song, Nunc Dimittis, at evening Mass too, intending the promise of the light of the world to give peace ahead of bedtime. Johann Sebastian Bach composed solo cantata Ich habe genug for the Feast of Purification on the 2nd of February 1727, when he was working in the St Thomas Church in Leipzig. It is written for a bass soloist, oboe, two violins, viola and basso continuo, and is made up of three arias and two recitatives.
In the 18th century, death was seen as a liberation from the suffering of earthly life, and a chance to reunite with the creator. Congruently, Bach’s music exudes a softened melancholy. The text of the first aria echoes the spirit of Simeon’s words in Nunc Dimittis: ‘I have enough, I have taken the saviour into my yearning arms’, and interprets the old man’s emotions with a rising sixth in the oboe, an interval that is then repeated in the bass part.
The Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen aria is, as a lullaby, a call to gently fall asleep forever, to be gone from life’s struggles. In the final movement, the approaching end is celebrated with a happy dance rhythm, Ich freue mich.
Bach himself must have liked the cantata a lot, as he later arranged it for soprano soloist and flute.
IGOR STRAVINSKY: The Firebird, 1919 Suite
At the beginning of the 1900s, Sergei Diaghilev worked variedly to promote and encourage new and radical Russian culture. This work included establishing the Ballets Russes in Paris, for which the young and still unknown Igor Stravinsky had orchestrated music by Chopin. It wasn’t long before he was commissioned to write new music for a Russian folk tale, which was to become Stravinsky’s big breakthrough.
The first of Stravinsky’s Russian ballets, The Firebird, was dedicated to Andrey Rimsky-Korsakov, a friend of the same age, and son of composer Nikolai, who had been like a second father to Stravinsky, and also taught him orchestration.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s influence can be more than discerned in the background of the music. Not least Stravinsky’s treatment of the orchestra should have garnered appreciation. Stravinsky’s use of musical motifs and structure show clear impressions from his role model. Some of the folk song tunes in The Firebird can also be found in Rimsky-Korsakov’s earlier work.
At night, the radiant firebird dances into the immortal Koschei’s enchanted garden, stalked by Prince Ivan. The prince manages to catch the bird after a duel, but sets it free again in return for a magical feather. In the garden, the prince watches 13 princesses dancing, and falls instantly in love with one of them. He reveals himself and is invited to participate in the princesses’ Khorovod, a Russian folk dance.
When dawn breaks, the princesses disappear into Koschei’s palace. Ivan forces the gate open to free his beloved, but is captured by Koschei’s monstruous subjects. The wizard threatens to turn the prince to stone, but Ivan raises the magical feather in despair, and the firebird comes to his rescue. It forces Koschei and all his subjects to dance an infernal dance to the point of exhaustion, and the egg that hides Koschei’s immortality is broken in pieces. The wizard dies, the spell is broken and the prisoners are freed.
Concert length: 2 hours 10 minutes (incl. intermission)