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<<  -- 3 --  Tess Crebbin    ALBAN BERG'S 'YOUNGER BROTHER'

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The concerto was commissioned by Rostropovich and inspired by the poetry of Charles Baudelaire (1821-67). Each of the five movements corresponds to a quotation from the poet's Les fleurs du Mal (Flowers of Evil). The piece is particularly difficult to play because of the composer's generous use of the high registers, and its première was given in July 1970 by Rostropovich. It opens with a percussion passage that leads into a cadenza-like segment for the cello. The piece is now recognized as one of the most important contributions to contemporary cello music.

Not surprisingly, fine celli and cellists featured prominently during the award-ceremony's concerts. First, there was the enjoyable performance by Rohan de Saram of the Arditti Quartet, whose exquisite Andrea Guarneri cello was a real eye-catcher while the internationally known cellist's playing was a feast for the ears. Pablo Casals once said of the Sri Lankan who lives in England that a talent of his magnitude was a rare find indeed. The Arditti Quartet, whose other members include Irvine Arditti (violin), Graeme Jennings (violin), and Ralf Ehlers (viola), gave a magnificent performance of Dutilleux's String Quartet Ainsi la Nuit, the only criticism of which is that it was over all too soon, for this is the kind of music one could effortlessly listen to all night, as the title suggests.

The Arditti Quartet: Irvine Arditti, violin, Graeme Jennings, violin, Ralf Ehlers, viola and Rohan de Saram, cello. Photo © Hajo Zylla
The Arditti Quartet: Irvine Arditti, violin, Graeme Jennings, violin, Ralf Ehlers, viola and Rohan de Saram, cello. Photo © Hajo Zylla

Local cello celebrity Sebastian Hess also came, albeit with a less fascinating cello than de Saran, and played a piece by contemporary composer and secondary award recipient Sebastian Claren. Several of the so-called 'Förderpreise' (support awards) are given annually by the Ernst von Siemens Stiftung and among this year's recipients was also the Cello Octet Conjuncto Iberico of Ilpendam, Holland, which is the world's only fulltime cello octet. They received the award to support their 'String and Wires' project, for which the composers Harvey and Kurtag will contribute. The octet plans some 20 plus concerts during the 2005/6 season with their program, including in USA, France, Belgium, Spain and, of course, the Netherlands. The Arditti Quartet received a cash award to commission four works, by the composers David Felder (USA), Manuel Lopez-Lopez (Spain), Manuel Rocha (Mexico) and Jukka Tiensuu (Finland).

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Copyright © 9 June 2005 Tess Crebbin, Germany

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