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Press reaction to the world premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s “The Wrath of God” in Vienna

The world premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina's orchestral work “The Wrath of God” on 6 November 2020 at the Vienna Musikverein within the framework of the Vienna Modern Festival with the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna under the baton of Oksana Lyniv caused a wave of enthusiastic reviews in the press.  

Here are some excerpts: 


“Vienna modern: When new music hits the heart 
Sofia Gubaidulina’s ‘The Wrath of God’ as a ghost concert in the Musikverein - a premiere between tears and goose bumps

Like magma thrusting from the depths: sharp dots twitch in unison with the bass, the heavy brass makes every long tone swell threateningly. The jagged line, which soon builds up to a brazen tutti-like violence, recalls the beginnings of Shostakovich’s Symphonies Nos. 5 and 8; one is reminded of the messianic emphasis of fear and terror in the face of the divine (...)”

(Walter Weidringer in: Die Presse am Sonntag, 08.11.2020)  


“Something missed! 

(...) Now it can be stated: All the potential listeners in Düsseldorf, Dresden and Salzburg have missed something. For ‘The Wrath of God’ is mighty, Gubaidulina lets the trumpets of Jericho sound, as it were. Mighty tin salvos are followed by such a deep cantus of rage that only a Beethoven would have made your ears prick up so.” (from: Wiener Zeitung, 06.11.2020) 


“Divine virtuoso restlessness 

(...) Not a ghost concert, however, but rather the atmosphere of a CD recording at the Musikverein: the energetic conductor Oksana Lyniv enters the stage and turns her back on the listeners to start with the RSO. It’s about a wild novelty by Sofia Gubaidulina, which should have been premiered at the Salzburg Easter Festival long ago, but was also cancelled ... Gubaidulina’s ‘The Wrath of God’ for orchestra comes over the small congregation like a wave of brass piling up again and again, countered by adagio-like string passages. At times, the action culminates in slowly rising passages which - almost like the tip of a pyramid - form a whimpering sound of pain. Parts of the arsenal of expression are also percussive energetics, dance-like interjections by the woodwinds and moments when horns (and sometimes violin) crave their short solo performances. Also essential is the combination of extremely high and very low instrumental registers until the work (...) ends monumentally-dramatically.” 

(Ljubisa Tosic in: The Standard, 07.11.2020) 


“Who will stop the hate? 

After the attack: Sofia Gubaidulina unleashes the ‘Wrath of God’ at Austria’s largest festival for new music 

(...) Low strings and rasping brass, including four Wagner tubas and two bass tubas, introduce the rhythmically very concise, soaring main theme in unison right at the beginning. It is a gestural motif, an elevation, which finally condenses contrapuntally into a multi-layered texture ...”

(Florian Amort in: FAZ, 09.11.2020)

Photo of Oksana Lyniv: © Bayerische Staatsoper


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