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Alfred Schnittke’s “Pianissimo” Receives Portuguese Premiere in Porto

The Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto will perform the Portuguese premiere of Alfred Schnittke’s “Pianissimo” under the direction of Peter Rundel at the Casa da Música in Porto on 22 October 2016. Schnittke‘s orchestral work dates from his dodecaphonic period and was premiered during the course of the Donaueschingen Music Days on 19 October 1969, performed by the SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden under the musical direction of Ernest Bour.

Alfred Schnittke wrote for the programme of the 1969 Donaueschingen Music Days:
“‘Pianissimo’ for large orchestra, which was written in 1967/68, forces a huge orchestral apparatus (harp, celeste, two pianos, electric guitar as well as a large percussion section and a generous complement of wind and strings to play as quietly as possible (piano-pianissimo) for long stretches of time. In this manner fluctuating structures of sound are created, and these can be experienced primarily as colour values. Recently my process of composition — that is, the conscious combination of parts according to a definite plan — has become, increasingly, displaced by something which I like to call ‘deciphering’. I try to capture my sonic visions, as they come to me, as accurately as possible in music. The Serenade, for example, was ‘there’ within half an hour but then cost me three months of painstaking work to complete. Sometimes I carry things around in my mind for years until I find the opportunity to make them tangible. This was the case with the orchestral work ‘Pianissimo’, which makes use of a structural idea by Franz Kafka. An apparently insoluble network of very diverse lines deciphers itself gradually, as a thousandfold reflection of a commonplace statement. Kafka’s tale does not, however, form a programme for ‘Pianissimo’ but merely provides a model for the score — for a tapestry of short or long, monochrome or colourful linear growths which all — taken individually or in any combination — embody the same basic structure: the ‘law’ which appears at the end of the Piece in the form of a twelve-tone row.”

22. October 2016
Casa da Música, Sala Suggia, 6 PM
Portuguese premiere: Alfred Schnittke
“Pianissimo” for orchestra
Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto
Peter Rundel (direction)


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