Last week, as part of the Cape Town International Summer Music Festival,
I was fortunate to attend the world premiere of Alfred Schnittke's
Schnittke wrote the work in 1958 for a competition of Soviet composers.
Shostakovich was head of the jury panel and "Nagasaki" won.
I am somewhat unfamiliar with Schnittke's orchestral music, but I
really like his chamber music, for instance the Piano Quartet and the
first Concerto Grosso. The work is in five parts, with the mixed choir
featuring in all movements and a mezzo-soprano singing in the fourth
The first movement is a depiction of Nagasaki after the bombing.
Typical bare sounds (a trademark of Schnittke's chamber music) dominates
this section and the large orchestra and chorus introduces us to the
wreckage of the city. The second movement is a depiction of the city
before the attack. I must admit that the music here sounds a lot like
Puccini's depiction of the orient in Madame Butterfly and Turandot. The
third movement portrays the actual bombing and here the large orchestra
can really let go. Twin tubas (spatially separated) mimic the sound
of the approaching bombers and the explosion is depicted by a massive
crescendo! The fourth movement is a portrayal of a mother searching
for her child in the ruins, sung by local mezzo-soprano Hanneli Rupert.
Unfortunately text were not available, so I can't comment on the actual
content of the sung text. The last movement is a sort of Hymn of Peace
and the work end on a positive note.
All and all, not really what I expected from Schnittke based on his
chamber works, but an enjoyable work nonetheless. For those who are
interested, BIS recorded the concert and plan to release it on CD.
The first half of the concert featured Mischa Maisky playing the Dvorak
Concerto. Although I'm not a great fan of Maisky Bach, he was absolutely
outstanding in Dvorak and I hope to see him again someday.
Hopefully this festival will become an annual event and it might be an
ideal time for some of you to visit Cape Town and South Africa
[log in to unmask]