Saturday, 21 August 2010

Angels and Demons Salonen Prom 46 Pärt

Esa-Pekka Salonen's daring. It takes guts to follow Mosolov's The Iron Foundry with Arvo Pärt's new Fourth Symphony, but Salonen rises to the challenge. Both pieces are enhanced by being heard together in Prom 46 also broadcast on TV.
Mosolov's The Iron Foundry doesn't actually need fine musicianship,  but Salonen and the Philharmonia show why top notch playing makes a difference. Precision engineering! Here the sparks really flew, frantic but agile, with muscular energy. This could be a foundry in Heaven, or Hell.  Read more about the piece HERE. Apparently, Sir Henry Wood conducted it seven times when it was new, eighty years ago. So much for the stupid theory that modern music somehow "can't" be appreciated by ordinary people.

Arvo Pärt's 4th symphony "Los Angeles" (2008) with its clean lines and wide open panoramas could have been written for Salonen, who  brings out the clarity in the work.  Pärt's mysticism can attract muddy, pretentious performance, but Salonen doesn't do slush. Here, Part's seamless harmonics shimmer, changes barely perceptible. Meditation music, perhaps.

Last night's Mahler 9 from Lucerne (Abbado) still resonates in my mind, which is unfair on Pärt, so it's better to think of "Los Angeles" in terms of Einojuhani Rautavaara, who wrote lots of symphonies about angels, light and transcendance. In fact, Stockhausen was into that, too, and John Tavener and Jonathan Harvey and others. This symphony is much more esoteric than Pärt's Prom 43 St John Passion, still available on I-player). Towards the end, there are echoes of glorified almost-ostinato. For me, The Foundry rears its head again. That's not a bad idea, and possibly deliberate on Salonen's part. Pärt dedicated the work to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, imprisoned in Russia. Alexander Mosolov spent time in a Stalinist gulag, his career never recovered.

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet played Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand. It was good, but not the most intense (remember Aimard in 2009) but Salonen and the Philharmonia flashed back in glory with Scriabin's The Poem of Ecstasy, a psychedelic high in music. Here its hyper colours took on a surreal glow, modern and timeless at once, like a good trip on LSD.

The picture is Gustav Doré,  a possibly deliberate rethinking of Caspar David Friedrich's paintings of individuals overwhelmed by vast landscapes and oceans. The Angels circulate, hovering in layers. It's Pärt's tintabulation, in visual form.  COMING UP, Volkov's interesting Prom 47, Wagner from Bayreuth and Prom 48. All happening at once, please keep reading and subscribe.

1 comment:

Dodorock said...

Ironically, I was compelled to think of a parenthood with... Mahler 9's first movement on hearing the Pärt. Perhaps not a valid reference in terms of complexity and refinement. And I really don't know anything about Pärt. I felt that Pärt "spoke" too with his own "musical prose", in reaction to our undefined world, even in his choice of simplicity. As a man of love, concern and of deep humanity. I thought too he made us pray with him, though I do not value God. I wanted to thank him.