Monday, 9 October 2017

Unfinished Business: London Sinfonietta 50 years

"Thank goodness for the London Sinfonietta!" (as the London Sinfonietta quotes me on the front page of their website. True, indeed ! without the London Sinfonietta, music in this country would have been dull indeed. The London Sinfonietta were pioneers, much more than "just" an ensemble. They were a powerhouse of creative, innovative thinking, generating a sea change in musical thinking which continues to flourish today.  Thus Unfinished Business, marking the forthcoming 50th anniversary of the London Sinfonietta, which starts Wednesday 11th October at St John’s Smith Square, starts with Hans Werner Henze's iconic Voices. Henze  himself conducted it with the Sinfonietta on their 1978 recording, re-released a few years ago. Please read my summary here.
Henze was closely associated with the London Sinfonietta who played a lot of his music, composer and orchestra both defined by the events of 1968.  They hosted a major retrospective to mark his 75th birthday, which is when I  met him.  He was a lion, but kind hearted enough to be nice to a nobody like me.  Henze is dead, but not forgotten. Currently I'm enjoying a new recording of his Neue Volkslieder und Hirtengesänge  and Kammermusik 1958 with Andrew Staples and the Sharoun Ensemble Berlin, conducted by Daniel Harding - it's wonderful, read more here.  This time round, David Atherton conducts Voices.  He's a Sinfonietta veteran too : the concert should be an almost historic occasion. 

Later in the season, Iannis Xenakis, Luciano Berio, Harrison Bitwistle, Gyorgy Ligeti, Wolfgang Rihm, Karlheinz Stockhausen and others, just a few of the numerous composers who have been associated with the ensemble from way back. The London Sinfonietta has a lot to be proud of !   A welcome return to its Glory Days, when it presented excellence with style and commitment.  For a while, it seemed that the ethos had changed. Governments promote the idea that orchestras should make education a priority but that's a political argument, not artistic logic.  If governments really cared about education they';d fund it in the first place, and let orchestras do what they do best., which is make music that inspires listeners to learn.   Excellence itself "is" education.  Please see a few of the numerous concerts and recordings I've covered over the years, including:
Beat Furrer FAMA 2016

Hans Abraham Schnee Simon Holt

George Benjamin Into the Little Hill

Stockhausen Trans und Harmonien

  and loads more on composer names

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