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A Mythical Message - Jan Müller-Wieland's Violin Concerto

"Ballade of Ariel" - world premiere in Berlin on 12 September 2002

On 12 September 2002 in Berlin, the British violinist Daniel Hope and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra under Vladimir Fedoseyev will perform the world premiere of the Violin Concerto "Ballade of Ariel," a work commissioned by the Berlin Konzerthaus. Further performances will take place there on 13 and 14 September.

The dramatic advisor Jens Schubbe has the following to say about the mythical figure of Ariel and Jan Müller-Wieland's new work:

"In Shakespeare's 'Tempest,' Ariel is a fantastic, good-natured spirit of the air who has made a slave of Prospero. The latter has been banished to an island and is set free in the end. At the beginning of Goethe's Faust II, we encounter Ariel as the leader of those elves who have made a cathartic sleep for Faust possible. 'Ariel' is, moreover, the title of a volume of posthumous poetry by Sylvia Plath. This poetess took her own life in 1963, and the poems reverberate with the themes of failed love, ruined lives and the obsession with death. In Hebrew, Ariel means 'God's fire-stove' or 'God's lion.' In the Old Testament, Ariel points out the uppermost part of the altar for burned offerings (Ezekiel 43:13) and is also used by Isaiah as a synonym for Jerusalem.

This name, therefore, is linked with a broad spectrum of meanings and associations. Jan-Müller Wieland alludes to these in his Ballade for violin and large orchestra. (...) The sonic statements at the beginning have an amorphous effect - fragments of melodies, circling round a few notes, frequently dissonant, tense double-stops. These sounds have been derived from a mode (scale) that is reminiscent of the so-called 'Gypsy minor,' as we know it from East and Southeast European music. The orchestra - more or less representing the instrumental world - and a brass choir stationed high above respond to Ariel's faraway songs in 'euphorico' character. They do so with a far-reaching melodic arch, a markedly rhythmic motif, insistent repeated notes and chords as well as ostinato figures and scales. (...) Ariel's encounter with the world takes place during the central part of the work, which begins after a cadence-like transition in a calm tempo.