With darker nights and winter almost upon us here’s something more cheerful to consider: November offers such an array of new music concert riches that I hardly know where to begin.
The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (hcmf//), one of the most important of its type in Europe, runs from Friday 18th November–Sunday 27th November. This year there is a special focus of the music of Iannis Xenakis and of Danish composer-in-residence Bent Sørensen. Xenakis events include a concert of works for strings and piano given by Ian Pace and the Arditti quartet on 25th November, a concert of large-scale choral works given by the New London Chamber Choir under Clement Power on the final day and a documentary exhibition devoted to the composer at Huddersfield Art gallery running throughout the Festival. Sørensen’s music features throughout the Festival. On Friday 18th November the Tronheim Soloists and accordionist Frone Haltli première his It is pain flowing slowly on a white wall. Five further concerts include Sørensen’s work, including Documentary Concert#1 on Saturday 19th November, a composer portrait performed by Ensemble Scenatet that includes a silent documentary film of the composer; and, on the final day, Saudades Inocentes, a new work for three generations of male singers—grandfather, father and son—guitar, accordion and a landscape of loudspeakers and also featuring Ensemble Scenatet.
Other notable performances at hcmf// include the world première of Richard Barrett’s monumental CONSTRUCTION for three vocalists, 16 instrumentalists, electronics and installation on 19th November, three years after it was to have originally been performed. UK premières include: James Dillon’s Oslo/Triptych for flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, two violins, viola and cello on Saturday 19th; Bernhard Lang’s Tables are Turned on Sunday 20th November, a celebration of the unpredictable and surprising properties of the vinyl disk; and a new 40-minute work by Rebecca Saunders, last year’s Festival composer-in-residence, on Thursday 24th November.
My apologies go to Sound, North East Scotland’s Festival of New Music, which I managed to miss last month. Their programme continues until 13th November, however, so there is still much to be enjoyed. Pieces that caught my eye include Julian Anderson’s Eden given by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on 4th November; Maxwell Davies’s Chat Moss, played by Aberdeen Sinfonietta on 6th November; works by Kalevi Aho, Peteris Vasks and a Geoff Paler première given by the Auriga Wind Quintet on 8th November; and a concert by the Stavanger Vocalensemble on 11th November featuring music by Bodvar Drotninghaug Moe, Arne Nordheim, Arvo Pärt, Kazuo Fukshima, Knut Nystedt, Eric Withacre and Sally Beamish.
There are several interesting concerts at the Bridgewater Hall this month. On Saturday 5th November you can hear John Adams’ Harmonium played by the Hallé under Sir Mark Elder whilst on Wednesday 9th November The Absolution Saxophone Quartet play a programme that features arrangements of Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango and Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint, as well as an as yet untitled world première by Callum Dewar. Also featuring the Hallé, on 17th November one can hear the work Virga by Helen Grime, a composer whose music impressed me no end when I met her in North Wales a few years ago.
Talking of Wales, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales will be playing three works not often heard by Welsh composers. One that I know well is William Mathias’s brilliant Helios, which will be played on Friday 11th November at Prichard Jones Hall, Bangor. Also on offer is Alun Hoddinott’s Landscapes at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 10th November and Daniel Jones’s Cloud Messenger at William Aston Hall, Wrexham on 12th November.
Further east, the Bristol Ensemble in conjunction with Arcomis Arts Commissioning (see my interview, here) present Elektrostatic. The concert series runs from 27th November all the way until June 2012 and features modern classics as well as brand new and lesser-known works. Those shows that will take part in the Arnolfini are also part of the venue’s 50th celebration and will feature archive programmes from its past and introductions or performances from such luminaries as Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Jane Manning and Gavin Bryars.
At the Barbican in London, on 4th November there is the rare chance to hear Arthur Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake in a concert performance given by the London Symphony Orchestra, Chorus and the New London Children’s Choir. Also in at the Barbican is Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on 5th November; Richard Einhorn’s Voices of Light with London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on 6th November; and Sofia Gubaidulina’s In tempus praesens with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and Shostakovich’s Symphony no.10 conducted by Valery Gergiev on 27 November.
Gergiev and Mutter also appear together with the LSO at the Salle Pleyel in Paris on Tuesday 29th November, where they will play Wolfgang Rihm’s Lichtes Spiel, a work that I reviewed on Anne-Sophie’s latest disk a few weeks ago. The day before, on 28th November, Gergiev will also conduct another performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony no. 10 at the venue. Before either of these concerts, however, at the Salle Pleyel on 4th November, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under Jukka-Pekka Saraste present a concert that includes performances of Britten’s Les Illumintions with soprano Christine Schäfer and Shotakovich’s Symphony no. 8.
The Wien Modern 2011 festival continues until 25th November. There is such a wealth of music on offer that it is probably best to check the programme here. Concerts that caught my eye, however, include: Harrison Birtwistle’s Cortège, Jonathan Harvey’s Round the Star and Back and Climbing Frame, Rebecca Saunders’ Stirring Still 2 and Wolfgang Mitterer’s Little Smile on 4th November; Wolfgang Mitterer’s comic opera Baron Münchhausen on 17th and 24th November; works by James Macmillan, Luke Bedford, Emily Howard, Jonathan Harvey, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Oliver Knussen performed by oenm (oesterreichisches für neue musik) on 18th November; and Friedrich Cerha’s Konzert für Schlagzeug und Orchester and Georh Friedrich Haas’s Eine Orchestrierung and Poème performed by the Vienna Philharmonic under Peter Eötvös.
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