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French Premiere of “Seid nüchtern und wachet” by Alfred Schnittke

The French premiere of Alfred Schnittke's vocal-symphonic work “Seid nüchtern und wachet” will be given at the Salle Pleyel in Paris on 21 September 2012 by Liliana Nikiteanu (alto), Marco Lazzara (countertenor), Erin Caves (tenor), Michael Volle (bass), the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra and the Radio France Choir. The work will be conducted by Vladimir Fedoseyev.

The cantata ”Seid nüchtern und wachet“ was composed in 1982/83 to a commission from the Vienna Festival. Later, the composer himself repeatedly designated the work as a ”negative Passion.“ In saying this, he was directly referring to the epilogue of the work, in which the composer had recourse to the First Letter of Peter from the New Testament, and which he also wanted to be understood as his personal credo. ”Be sober and watchful,“ it says here, ”when your adversary, the devil, goes around like a roaring lion looking for whatever he can devour.“ With the means of polystilism, Schnittke refers to the style of great passion music of the Baroque period, allowing the choir to begin the described plot with a proclamatory prologue and ending with an instructive conclusion. The narrative passages are sung by a tenor. Schnittke had the magnificent idea of having the role of the still masked devil sung by a countertenor, while the unmasked, diabolical Mephisto is then sung by an alto. In the Night Scene No. 7 ”Es geschah ...“ Schnittke surprisingly brings in a truly infernal tango.

21 September 2012
Salle Pleyel, 8 PM
French premiere: Alfred Schnittke
“Seid nüchtern und wachet“. Cantata for alto, tenor, countertenor, bass, mixed choir and orchestera
Liliana Nikiteanu (alto), Marco Lazzara (countertenor), Erin Caves (tenor),
Michael Volle (bass)
Choeur de Radio France
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Thomas Lang (direction of the choir)
Vladimir Fedoseyev (direction)


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