3 November 2012

The Rest is Noise at the Southbank Centre

From January 2013 onwards the Southbank Centre in London will play host to probably the most exciting classical music festival I know. It's inspired by Alex Ross's amazing book The Rest Is Noise, which is also the title of the festival. The first half of the festival, from January till June, is concerned with music from the early 1900s until right after WWII.

And honestly, it's like someone asked "hey Renée, what kinda music do you like"? and put it all in one festival. There are 18 concerts I REALLY want to go to and a whole bunch of other that I'd like to go to. Because I love the whole program so much, I figured I'll highlight some of the concerts on this blog. It is important to note, however, that this is only a tiny fraction of all the amazing concerts going on at the festival, you really ought to look at official site as well.

Saturday 16 February 2013 "Riot at the Ballet"
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Leila Josefowicz
Ravel - Ma Mère l'oye (complete ballet)
Prokofiev - Violin Concerto No.1
Stravinsky - The Rite of Spring

I love Yannick so much I would even consider seeing him conduct Haydn or someone else I hate. But to see him conduct a program consisting of Ravel, Prokofiev and Stravinsky is pretty much perfect. His understanding and love for the music of Ravel is much-documented, but I'm sure he'll kick ass at the Prokofiev and Stravinsky as well. I am excited to see Leila Josefowicz play Prokofiev, I'm a huge fan of her Adès and Salonen concertos and even though I've been kinda spoilt by seeing Vadim Repin play this concerto before, if there's anyone up to the challenge it's her.

Wednesday 20 February 2013 "Imagining America"
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Marin Alsop, London Adventist Chorale
Trad. - Spirituals (a capella)
Dvorak - Symphony No.9
Milhaud - La Création du Monde suite
Varèse - Amériques

One of the things I love about this festival is that Darius Milhaud, a criminally underappreciated composer is getting quite a bit of attention. Of course La Création du Monde is his most well-known pipece, but on February 20th at 6 there's a free concert with two of his Petite Symphonies as well. And this concert in the evening will be amazing if only because Varèse's (also underappreciated) Amériques is absolutely insane and incredible to hear live. I CANNOT wait to hear it again!

Saturday 6 April 2013 "Orff's Carmina Burana"
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Hans Graf, Sally Matthews, Andrew Kennedy, Rodion Pogossov, the London Philharmonic Choir and Trinity Boys Choir
Stravinsky - Symphony of Psalms
Orff - Carmina Burana

Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms is incredibly beautiful. To have it combined with one of the highlights of Twentieth century choral music; Orff's Carmina Burana is the stuff dreams are made of. It'll be loud and exhausting and overwhelming and absolutely fantastic.

Saturday 27 April 2013 "Music from Dark Times"
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski, Barbara Hannigan
Webern - Variations for Orchestra
Berg - Lulu Suite
Martinu - Double Concerto
Bartók - Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta

I love Bartók and Berg and Barbara Hannigan so this can only be an evening full of excitement. On top of that, Martinu is one of those composers that I've wanted to check out for ages but still haven't, so this is a great opportunity to get to know his music!

Thursday 2 May 2013 "Composing Under Stalin"
Philharmonia Orchestra, Jakub Hrusa, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Philharmonia Voices
Skriabin - Rêverie for Orchestra
Shostakovich - Violin Concerto No.1
Prokofiev - Alexander Nevsky cantata

Oh what to say about this one... Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No.1 is one of my favourite pieces, I've seen it quite a few times by now and it still makes me want to weep like a little girl (apart from the scherzo which is hilarious). Alexander Nevsky is great as well, and I love it when cantatas are performed, somehow it seems to be quite rare.

Friday 10 May 2013 "Imprisoned Music"
Renaud Capucon, Gautier Capucon, Denis Kozhukhin, Jörg Wildmann
Shostakovich - Piano Trio No.2
Messiaen - Quatuor pour la fin du temps

Messiaen's Quatuor pour la fin du temps is probably the piece of music with one of the most moving histories; it was composed and first performed in a prisoner of war camp in 1941. The instrumentation was one of necessity, as it is tailored to the musicians Messiaen met in the camp. It is not as bleak as one might expect, but it is heartbreakingly beautiful and upsetting piece of music. Programmed with Shostakovich's Piano Trio No.2, written in 1944 this evening of music will probably be overwhelming, but it will be worth it.

Thursday 16 May 2012 "Satirical Shostakovich"
Philharmonia Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Peter Sellars, Philharmonia Voices
Shostakovich - Orango: Prologue (orch. Gerard McBurney)
Shostakovich - Symphony No.4

I'm not sure if I can adequately explain how exciting this concert is for me. Perhaps you get the picture when I say that I bought tickets for it as soon as they became available. Orango was only performed for the first time in december of last year, by the LA Philharmonic with Salonen, and I've played the CD of that performance about a million times. It is the prologue to what would've been an opera by Shostakovich, but halfway through he and the libretto-writers (who both died in workcamps later on) decided it might not be such a good idea to finish it and have it performed. It was discarded and a pianoscore was rediscovered years later, from with McBurney made an excellent orchestration. The Fourth Symphony is of course one of my favourite pieces ever and to see Esa-Pekka Salonen conduct it is a dream come true!


  1. Did you go to Shostakovich - Symphony No. 4, two weeks ago in the Doelen with the RPhO? Gergiev directed it and before the break they did Violin Concert nr.2 with Janine Jansen. I was in awe to see her play, it was amazing.

    However, I felt last year's performance of Symphony No. 4 by the RPhO with Mark Elder was a little better even. I also love introducing people to Shostakovich by taking them to the concert hall, everyone so far loved it.

  2. So sorry for my late reply! I didn't go to the Gergiev concerts as I no longer live in The Netherlands, but I heard they were fantastic! I'm glad I did get to see Mark Elder conduct the fourth last year, just like you, it was fantastic wasn't it? I brought some friends who didn't know much about classical music and they loved it. I will see Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia play it later this year in London and am honestly expecting that one to be even more fantastic!