Edinburgh International Festival 2014


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A concert saturated with the obsessive, the mythic and the exotic - and marking Jonathan Mills' final year as artistic director of the Edinburgh International Festival.

Recorded 8th August at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Presented by Donald Mcleod

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra is conducted by Oliver Knussen in music by maverick composers whose exuberantly colourful works remain just as radical today. As with Schoenberg's 5 Orchestral Pieces which shocked the audience at their first performance at the Proms in 1912. They continue to amaze with their highly condensed design, rapidly shifting textures, and radical harmony.

The brilliant young pianist Kirill Gerstein joins the orchestra to tackle the gargantuan score of Scriabin's Prometheus: The Poem of Fire. As much a dazzling technical achievement as a sensual overload this piece - part concerto, part oratorio, part symphony - evokes the myth of Prometheus, stealing fire from the Gods and creating mankind.

And the concert concludes with a rare opportunity to hear the complete score of Debussy's incidental music to the play Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien. Soprano Claire Booth and the Edinburgh Festival Chorus join the orchestra to perform the often pared-down but frequently mesmerizing music which originally accompanied Gabriele D'Annunzio's extravagant exploration of religious sacrifice and repressed desire.

Schoenberg: 5 Orchestral Pieces Op 16 (original version)

Scriabin: Prometheus: The Poem of Fire

Debussy: Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien

Kirill Gerstein (piano)

Claire Booth (soprano)

Edinburgh Festival Chorus

Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Oliver Knussen (conductor).

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The great German chanteuse Ute Lemper joins the Scottish Chamber Orchestra for an evening of Weimar Republic decadence at the Edinburgh International Festival, with music by Weill, Eisler and Stravinsky and songs made famous by Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf.

Recorded on 15th August at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh and presented by Jamie MacDougall.

Weill: Kleine Dreigroschenmusik

Weill: Der Song von Mandelay

Weill: Surabaya-Johnny

Kander/Ebb: Cabaret

Weill: Denn wie man sich bette

Weill: Salomon-Song

Weill: Die Morität von Mackie Messe

Weill: Youkali

Weill: J'attends un navire

Ferré: Avec le temps

Weill/Gershwin: The Saga of Jenny

Stravinsky: Scènes de Ballet

Schultze: Lily Marlene

Eisler: Die Ballade vom Wasserad

Eisler: Die Graben

Eisler: Die Ballade von Marie Sanders

Hollaender: Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss

Hollaender: Ich bin die fesche Lola

Monnot/Moustaki: Milord

Glanzberg/Contet: Padam...padam...

Monnot/Piaf: La Vie en rose

Ute Lemper (vocalist)

Ian Buckle (piano)

Paul Chamberlain (accordion)

Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Lawrence Foster (conductor).

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Philippe Herreweghe, founder of the choir and orchestra of Collegium Vocale Gent conducts this specialist ensemble in a performance of Bach's B minor Mass given in Edinburgh's Usher Hall during the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2014 and presented by Donald Macleod.

Bach's Mass in B minor is one of the greatest monuments of western music and yet its origins are still a mystery. Much of it is compiled and adapted from music Bach wrote over the previous 40 years and it's far too long for liturgical use. It stands as a showcase of his compositional skills so may have been an elaborate job application or maybe Bach wrote it purely for his own satisfaction. In any case, the score was completed only a year before Bach died and he never heard it performed in its entirety. Its first publisher Hans Georg Nägeli described it as "the greatest musical work of art of all times and nations" and, even allowing for a salesman's exaggeration, his confidence was justified.

Bach: Mass in B minor

Dorothee Mields (soprano)

Hana Blazikova (soprano)

Damien Guillon (countertenor)

Thomas Hobbs (tenor)

Peter Kooij (bass)

Collegium Vocale Gent

Phillippe Herreweghe (conductor).

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The I, Culture Orchestra make a dramatic debut at the EIF with Shostakovich's thrilling 'Leningrad' symphony and Panufnik's poignantly lyrical Sinfonia Elegiaca. Recorded on August 17th at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh and presented by Donald Macleod.

Panufnik's Sinfonia Elegiaca of 1957 is a reworking of material from his Symphony of Peace which was premiered by Stokowski two years earlier, just after the composer's defection from Poland to the UK. Panufnik dedicated the work to the victims of the Second World War "of all nationalities, religions and races throughout the world". It's in three sections: Molto andante - Molto allegro - Molto andante.

Shostakovich composed his seventh symphony during the siege of Leningrad in 1941 and much of it was actually written in the city. After its premiere in Kuybishev, performances soon followed in London and New York and, remarkably, Leningrad itself, a year after the siege had begun. Shostakovich himself downplayed any naturalistic programme for the work but did describe the central part of the first movement as "a requiem for the heroes who died for us".

The I, Culture Orchestra was created by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Poland and consists of young musicians from that country as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Its purpose is to build bridges across the political and cultural divides between nations and to provide training for professional musicians at the start of their careers. Their appearance in Edinburgh was the penultimate date on a European tour conducted by the Ukrainian conductor Kirill Karabits.

Panufnik: Sinfonia Elegiaca

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 'Leningrad'

Moniuszko: Mazurka from 'Halka'

I, Culture Orchestra

Kirill Karabits, conductor.