Marin Alsop blows cobwebs off Vienna

The American conductor takes over in September as chief of the Austrian Radio Orchestra.

Here’s her opening concert at Wien Modern:

Agata Zubel: Fireworks (2018)
Peter Ablinger: 4 Weiß for orchestra and Rauschen (2019)
Clara Iannotta: Moult (2019)
Luciano Berio: Sinfonia for 8 voices and orchestra (1968-1969)
Jón Leifs: Hekla op. 52 (1961)
Eat that, Baltimore.
Full season here.

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  • I assume you mean the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, and what cobwebs exactly, Norman? Wien Modern has been going for 30 years and has always hosted programmes of this nature. And the RSO has a long-standing reputation for championing contemporary works.

    • Even the so called old fashion philharmoniker. Just look both 1988 and 1997 records of Wien Modern with Abbado. What would we say in the case of ORF, so often playing contemporary music even outside the festival. The previous MD (Meister) had been recording Von Einem ouevre, just to mention one regular appointment of ORF. I couldn’t understand “cobwebs” either.

  • With Jón Leifs’ “Hekla” on the program, I prefer the term “volcanic eruption” rather than merely blowing cobwebs. At any rate, this fascinating concert goes out with the most appropriate bang.

    Indeed, the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra has a long, well established and distinguished history of performing modern and contemporary music, into which the Vienna Phil, in this writer’s humble opinion, only seems to venture occasionally, as evidenced by the paucity of recordings.

    Meanwhile, here in Boston, the Dude is in town to conduct Schumann 1 and Stravinsky Sacre at Symphony Hall, in the daring endeavour to celebrate the arrival of spring. Yawn. (BTW: Too bad they don’t include Bax’ Spring Fire, as the Schumann and Stravinsky make for only 66 minutes of music – reminds me of Karajan concert programs. I bet Bax would wow Bostonians!)

    I wouldn’t mind “Hekla” and many other great works of Leifs. They’d wake BSO audiences up, for sure! 🙂

  • Lovely program! However, I am confused as to what we Baltimoreans are supposed to ‘eat’, Norman. We performed and even premiered tons of new works over the last twelve years here, including works by Agata Zubel. We just did a new work by Roxanna Panufnik a few weeks ago, which was given a fine reception by our long time subscribers.We are doing a whole week of new music, like this program, during our coming summer season. We hope to see you there, Norman. We could even eat together.

    • Andrew, when the CSO gets things back together, please consider auditioning for Principal Trumpet. They need you.

    • AB writes: “We perform…tons of new works”

      It is kind-of-all “opening night premier and never played again” commitment to new music. Personally I would prefer that orchestras worried much less about being the first, and instead concentrated on contemporary pieces that they think deserve a second-third-fourth performance. What has been played in the last few years that deserves to be played again?

  • Baltimore actually does some fairly interesting programming. Enough so that this year I’ve been going to hear them at Strathmore fairly often, while I rarely go hear the NSO a short walk away at the Kennedy Center.

  • we are all happy about marin alsops appointment here in vienna but “cobwebs” does not do justice to the ongoing history of the RSO playing and commissioning contemporary music throughout the season. not only at the opening of wien modern…

  • I looked up the first piece on that list and gave it a hearing.

    What makes that a daring programming choice?

    I’m surprised people are still writing music like that. It sounds like the “experimental” music that college professors lecturing about 30, 40, 50 years ago. It sounds like the “contemporary” music that gets flogged to college concert bands. Much of it sounds like someone was randomly dropping the needle on an LP of “Le Sacre.”

    It’s a tedious collection of odd noises. And yet it’s a brand new work from 2018?

    “Experimental” is OK but it makes no sense to keep doing the same failed experiments as if there might be some way to make a collection of odd noises compelling instead of… tedious.

  • After being involved in orchestras for 20+ years I have learned that “creative programming” generally means new works that audiences don’t want to hear and will never be heard again–often atonal in nature.

    • Perhaps it better would be to think about the nearly new works that deserve to be heard again. Personally I find that kind of programme more interesting.

  • Thrilled to learn Marin Alsop is a Leifsian. It’s so hard to track upcoming performances of relatively obscure composers. I wish Bachtrack worked better for this.

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