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Düsseldorf “Chimera” - the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra Premieres Lera Auerbach’s Symphony No. 1

She used to like to comment on her works in detail, Lera Auerbach said not long ago, but now she no longer wants to. The result, a finished work, is on a higher level than words. It is, according to Auerbach, “much larger than its creator,” and speaks for itself. Auerbach gave her earlier works baffling subtitles, allowing for a wealth of extra-musical interpretations. Symphony No. 1, commissioned by the Tonhalle Düsseldorf, is no exception. It bears the title “Chimera,” thus pointing to possible inspiration from Greek mythology. The individual movements are entitled as follows: I. Aegri somni, II: Post tenebras lux, III. Gargoyles, IV. Et in Arcadia ego, V. Siste, viator and VI. Humum mandere. Torsten Möller has written the following in the programme notes for the premiere on 10 November 2006 by the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra:

“Auerbach, who openly confesses to believing in the power of tradition, indeed cannot imagine writing music without the past, is rather close to the idiom of Igor Stravinsky or Gustav Mahler in her Symphony No. 1. Powerful parallel writing in the instruments provides the necessary “pressure of expression;” this and catchy, at times harshly stamping rhythms, are both found right at the beginning, but especially in the 3rd movement, Gargoyles, superscripted Allegro molto, obsessivo. This is reminiscent of the beginning of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony or Stravinsky’s key-work “Sacred du printemps.” Auerbach’s integration of the Theremin is a particular stroke of finesse. The electro-acoustic instrument, played with two hands – one hand controls the pitch, the other the volume – was developed in 1920 by the St. Petersburg-born Léon Theremin. The searing, singing tone of the Theremin can be heard at two spots: a cantilena and the glissandi typical of the instrument are integrated in the third movement, Gargoyles, and the Theremin also sounds very clearly at the end. Auerbach here uses the extreme range of nine octaves.”

Symphony No. 1 “Chimera”

Commissioned by the Tonhalle Düsseldorf

World Premiere on 10 November 2006 in Düsseldorf

Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra, cond.: John Fiore