Preview: Prom 48: Gürzenich Orchestra/Stenz, Royal Albert Hall, London
When history repeats past musical glory
Thursday 21 August 2008
When Markus Stenz and the Gürzenich-Orchestra play their Prom, history will be telescoped in a unique way. Not only will this richly historic orchestra – whose past conductors have included Mendelssohn, Wagner, Verdi, Brahms, and Stravinsky – recreate the programme their predecessors played in Cologne in 1904, at which Mahler's Fifth Symphony was introduced to the world; they will also rework that concert's Schubert element, and will celebrate Cologne's greatest 20th-century musical son by performing Stockhausen's Punkte.
"In this concert," says Stenz, "we can reflect not only our orchestra's tradition but also the constantly evolving musical world."
The way this Prom has germinated is interesting. Proms director Roger Wright liked the idea of a historical-replica programme, and Mahler's Fifth, plus four Schubert songs, plus Beethoven's Leonore Overture No 3, seemed as promising a recipe now as it must have done in 1904; the difference would be the original piano accompaniment to the songs would be beefed up with an orchestra for the Royal Albert Hall.
Mezzo Angelika Kirchschlager and the women's choir Apollo Voices would lend a new vocal dimension.
Then Stenz invited four contemporary composers to make their own arrangements of those songs. Enter Detlev Glanert, Manfred Trojahn, and those indefatigable British brothers David and Colin Matthews.
Realising that the concert fell on Stockhausen's 80th birthday, he decided to do a second concert that day as a tribute. "Since his death it's become a memorial tribute. Then Roger Wright decided we could have an extended main Prom which simply started earlier. So now we have an event with three significant parts, with a tribute to the most important Cologne composer."
Tomorrow, 7pm (0845 401 5040)
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