Prefaced by a quotation from 16th-century alchemist Paracelsus, Arcana, typically for Varèse, plays with repetitions of a fixed theme including a rising tritone also used in Intégrales (see Sunday’s concert).
The haunting Nocturnal for soprano, male chorus and orchestra, adapts text from Anais Nin’s The House of Incest in a sinister Dadaesque dreamscape: ‘Bread and the wafer / womb and seed and egg’.
Two surrealist poems by Mexican and Chilean writers are the foundation of Offrandes, for soprano and chamber orchestra, in which Varèse makes clear his debt to Debussy.
Dance for Burgess was originally conceived for a musical, while Tuning Up was written for a film but never used: it takes as its starting point the orchestra’s preparatory ritual at the beginning of a concert.
The evening culminates in a performance of Amériques. The last time the piece was performed in Royal Festival Hall, in 2010, The Observer hailed it as ‘ a ferocious masterpiece.’
Now in its centenary year, the internationally renowned City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra was first conducted by Edward Elgar. The orchestra appear with Music Director Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla, whom The Observer, in a five-star 2017 review, called ‘an irresistible new star.’
PerformersCity of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
RepertoireVarèse: Arcana; Nocturnal for soprano, male chorus & chamber orchestra; Offrandes for soprano & chamber orchestra