With the Missa Solemnis and the Ninth Symphony (with Schoenberg's A survivor from Warsaw before the final) Jan Cayers and his musicians will reach two summits of the Beethoven-Ouevres in Season 2018/19. At the same time these productions represent the high point of the successful cooperation with the Arnold Schoenberg choir, which can look back to a long performance tradition with this kind of music. Jan Cayers, Le Concert Olympique and the Arnold Schoenberg choir will be complete with outstanding solists such as Marlis Petersen, Elisabeth Kulmann, Genia Kühmeier, Steve Davislim and Hanno Müller-Brachmann.
L. V. BEETHOVEN: SYMPHONY No. 9 IN D-MINOR, OP. 125 - / A. SCHÖNBERG: A SURVIVOR FROM WARSAW, OP. 46
Genia Kühmeier, Soprano
Steve Davislim, Tenor
Elisabeth Kulman, Mezzosoprano
Hanno Müller-Brachmann, Bass
Le Concert Olympique / Arnold Schoenberg Choir / Jan Caeyers, Conductor
L. v. Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D-Minor, op. 125, movements I-III
A. Schönberg: A survivor from Warsaw, op. 46
L. v. Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D-Minor, op. 125, movement IV
Available period: 4-14 April 2019
The Ninth is the best known and the least understood Symphony by Beethoven (due in no small measure to the popularity of the choral finale!). However, the Ninth Symphony is extremely poignant, by virtue of its instrumentation, the treatment of voices and instruments, the formal concept and its extreme expressivity through which it sets itself apart from all previous orchestral works.
Especially its dramaturgy – with the skillfully constructed climax in the first three movements, which culminates in the impressive finale with the use of the added vocal resources – accounts for the symphony’s monumental dimension. Its strength goes hand in hand with the hidden danger of a premature and uncontrolled interpretative gesture. It is for this reason that Jan Caeyers and Le Concert Olympique have opted for a simple, transparent and almost classicist interpretation of the score with a relatively small ensemble. The decision to work with a large chamber choir – the Arnold Schoenberg Choir from Vienna – underlines this concept.
The Ninth Symphony will be complemented (before the finale) by Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw, often perceived as one of the composer’s most expressive works due to both the music and the harrowing realism of the text. It will add another dimension to the Ninth Symphony’s political and ideological significance in this production: Because of this combination, Beethoven’s Ninth becomes a hopeful comment on Schoenberg’s masterpiece.
The conductor and renowned Beethoven biographer Jan Caeyers, together with the 45 musicians of Le Concert Olympique – taken from leading European orchestras such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra – are committed to performing the music of Beethoven and his contemporaries in artistically outstanding interpretations. The orchestra debuted in 2010 with two acclaimed concerts in deSingel in Antwerp, where it has been based since its foundation. As well as performing in some of the most important concert halls in Belgium, since 2012 Le Concert Olympique has appeared on stages throughout the world. In the 2017/18 season, the orchestra will guest at the Beethovenfest Bonn, Philharmonie Essen, Vienna Konzerthaus, Amsterdam Concertgebouw as well as the Berlin Philharmonie.
Le Concert Olympique not only performs Ludwig van Beethoven’s well-known symphonies and concertos, but also lesser-known and rarely played pieces including the composer’s major choral works, which will be performed in the coming season with the renowned Viennese Arnold Schoenberg Chor. Additionally, the orchestra performs music by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn and other composers from a historically-informed perspective.
Le Concert Olympique comes together just once a year for its ambitious projects. The festival character of the performances is underlined by the fact that the orchestra is dressed in clothing by the Antwerp fashion house Maison Anna Heylen. This partnership illustrates the aim of the musicians – to combine classical tradition with modern experience.
The orchestra’s name refers to Le Concert de la Société Olympique, the renowned Parisian concert series which took place between 1782 and 1789. Le Concert de la Société Olympique created a sensation with the commission of six symphonies from Joseph Haydn – the Parisian symphonies – in 1785. This is generally considered as the birth of the modern classical symphony.
The Arnold Schoenberg Choir was founded in 1972 by current artistic director Erwin Ortner and remains one of the most sought after and versatile vocal ensembles in Austria. The choir’s repertoire ranges from renaissance and baroque to the present day with a focus on contemporary music. The choir has a particular interest in a cappella music, however it also regularly performs large scale works for choir and orchestra.
As well as concert performances, the choir has also regularly taken part in opera productions, beginning with Schubert's Fierrabras at the Vienna Festwochen in 1988 (directed by Ruth Berghaus and conducted by Claudio Abbado), and including Messiaen's Saint François d'Assise in 1992 (directed by Peter Sellars and conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen) and the world premiere of Berio's Cronaca del Luogo at the Salzburg Festival.in 1999 (directed by Claus Guth and conducted by Sylvain Cambreling). The choir is also regularly engaged in opera productions at the Theatre an der Wien; among others Janaceks Aus einem Totenhaus, which was directed by Patrice Chéreau and conducted by Pierre Boulez. This production was voted “Best Opera production in German speaking countries 2007”. 2008 Stravinskys The Rakes Progress (directed by Martin Kusej, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt) and 2009 Claus Guths staged interpretaion of Handels Messiah were further operatic highlights.
For 40 years the choir has had a close association with the conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt. It has undertaken numerous concert tours and appears regularly at the Vienna Festwochen, the Salzburg festival, the Wien Modern festival, the Carinthian Summer festival and the styriarte in Graz.
In 1994 an international panel presented the choir with the “Classical music award”. The choir also received numerous prizes, including the German “Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik“, the “Diapason d'or“, the “Prix Caecilia“ and the “Grand Prize of the Academy Awards”, for its 1996 recording of the complete choral works of Franz Schubert, which was conducted by its artistic director Erwin Ortner. The choir also won a Grammy award in 2002 for its recording of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Nicholas Harnoncourt. Latest recordings of Arnold Schoenberg Choir in collaboration with Nikolaus Harnoncourt include an album with cantatas from Bach, Gershwin's Porgy and Bess as well as Haydn's The Seasons, which was awarded the Echo Klassik Price 2010.