Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra
Michael Wendeberg, conductor
Rinnat Moriah, soprano
Jean-Frédéric Neuburger, piano
Vito Žuraj: Alavò
Richard Strauss: Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
On the invitation of Pierre Boulez, German pianist and conductor Michael Wendeberg served as the pianist of the Parisian Ensemble InterContemporain between 2000 and 2005. As a soloist, he has performed at festivals in Lucerne, Salzburg and New York. He was an assistant to conductor Daniel Barenboim at the Berlin State Opera, and today he works as the artistic director of the Lucerne Opera and leader of Ensemble Contrechamps from Geneva.
The first part of the concert – which is at the same time the opening event of this year’s first edition of the festival Into the New Year with New Music – is dedicated to the 40th birthday of composer Vito Žuraj. For several years now, he has been collaborating extremely successfully with renowned ensembles for contemporary music, such as Ensemble Modern, Klangforum Wien and Ensemble InterContemporain, as well as the New York Philharmonic. His works have been performed at festivals such as the MiTo Festival in Milan, the Salzburg Festival, the Slowind Festival and ORF Musikprotokoll, as well as at the Paris Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustic and Music (IRCAM).
Patrick Hahn, the author of the text for Žuraj’s composition, wrote: “Alavò is a poetic scene and a utopian sound space. The composition, which was written on the occasion of the Claudia Abbado Compositional Prize, was inspired by Sicilian sources – it is based on the old Sicilian fairy tale Sapia la sapiente, which unfolds in the composition on multiple levels of time and consciousness.” Soprano Rinnat Moriah and pianist Jean-Frédéric Neuburger were also the soloists at the premiere on 5 November 2017 at the Berlin Philharmonic.
The second part of the concert features one of Strauss’s most extensive orchestral compositions, the symphonic poem Ein Heldenleben. This brilliant orchestral score, full of the glittering sound of the large, late-Romantic orchestra, with extraordinary gradations and an unforgettable violin solo, was first conducted by the composer himself on 3 March 1899 in Frankfurt.