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Alfred Schnittke's “Glass Harmonica“ in Japan

The animated film "The Glass Harmonica," completely scored with film music by Alfred Schnittke, will receive its world premiere on 22 August 2011 in Tokyo. The director Andrei Khrshanovsky created the film in 1966 and Schnittke composed the film music two years later.

Frank Strobel has newly arranged the complete score after already making an orchestral suite from the film music in 2003. At that time, Strobel had this to say about Schnittke's composing for film: "Alfred Schnittke tried out an enormous number of things in his film scores, developing them and arriving at an astounding maturity in his own style. One must try to realise that for each film (and he scored about 60 films), he created a score of an average length of 45 to 60 minutes. This is an enormous compositional achievement which I would unhesitatingly place next to his concerti grossi, symphonies and other works."

In the film "The Glass Harmonica," this instrument, the glass harmonica is the epitome of purity. It is capable of driving away fear and threats, but it is a thoroughly fragile instrument. Schnittke creates the glassy sound with the help of celesta, harp and prepared piano. Whimpering violins, giggling woodwind, blaring brass and rattling percussion paint a ghostly atmosphere. Schnittke's music is neither superficial nor catchy, but has an unsettling effect on the listener, extending up to the threshold of noise and requiring extreme registers and methods of playing from the instrumentalists.

The Japanese performance will take place during the course of the 2011 summer festival "Music Today 21" at Suntory Hall in Tokyo; the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Kazuyoshi Akiyama will perform. The director Andrei Khrshanovsky is expected to be present as a special guest.

22 August 2011
Summer Festival 2011 „Music Today 21“, Suntory Hall Tokio, 7 PM
World premiere: Alfred Schnittke
“The Glass Harmonica“ (film + live orchestral accompaniment)
Tokyo Symphony Orchestra
Kazuyoshi Akiyama (direction)


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