IMPULSES : MUSIC & LITERATURE
These programs, carefully curated partnerships of word and music, have become a welcome addition to the programs of festivals and series throughout the concert halls of Europe.
Together we have developed programs avoiding the more obvious connection of, for example, Mozart's music to his letters, and searching rather for creative, enlightening associations where an inner life runs through the two mediums, music and word forming shadows of each other to form a creative whole. The surreal humour that connect the Englishman Lawrence Sterne and Joseph Haydn, or the dark inner-exile relationship of the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa to the music of late Bartok and Mendelssohn, form two such programs.
Past performances have included visits to the Schleswig Holstein Festival, Burgtheater Vienna, Schauspielhaus Graz, the Rheingau Festival and the Beethovenfest in Bonn.
Heinrich Heine and the music of Schumann and Mendelssohn - "Traumbilder"
Bertold Brecht and Webern, Berg and Beethoven - "Ohne Grund nicht denken"
Lawrence Sterne and Joseph Haydn - "Verwirrungen in den Ansichten uber die Dinge"
Fernando Pessoa and music from Bartok and Mendelssohn - "Verwandlungen"
Texts and music from Franz Schubert - "Will in andre Welten langen"
Osip Mandelstam, Puschkin, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky - "Das Rauschen der Zeiten"
What began as part of Berlin's exciting underground scene has since become an established and beloved concert series where long queues of young people stretch around the block waiting to hear some pieces that their parents listen to on the radio, and other pieces that their parents certainly don't listen to.
One of the main ambitions behind the Kuss Plus experiment, so named because of the addition of a guest from another area of the Berlin arts scene, was to create programmes and perform pieces that were both challenging and exciting for broader audiences.
No winding down after work here, this is a series where the audiences have shown themselves hungry for silences where you can hear a pin drop, and raucous noise that only the most avant-garde music can produce, plus the occasional piece by an Austrian composer called Schubert.
Video artists, poetry-slammers, a trio of very attractive Nordic singers and a slightly less attractive English cellist - guests have included the soprano Mojca Erdmann, Trio Medievel, VJ Safy Sniper and Bas Bottcher.
Questions arose immediately: How exactly does Beethoven use a traditional form to develop just a few notes to create one of the most modern, and monumental pieces ever written, the 741-bar Grosse Fugue? What are the links and traditions that bind composers together and inspire them to break out against those traditions, and why and how is thirty-minutes of Helmut Lachenmann, made up of scratches and scrapes on every part of the instrument, a supremely beautiful work?
Playing examples of the works under discussion as well as other works from the period, and using quotes and anecdotes we try to share with audiences the fascination of these works in such a way that people can hear things that they've never heard in these works before.
Fuges in the String Quartet (Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven)
Transition (from Schumann to Lachenmann)
Renaissance meets Modern (Orlando di Lasso, J. Bennett, J. Downland, G. Kurtag, Stravinsky, Thomas Ades)
How does an interpretation emerge? (Beethoven op. 127)
A search for roots (Folk music in Bartok and Smetana)
Papa Haydn (String Quartets, esp. Op.77)
"Will in and're Welten langen" (Schubert String Quartet G major)