A subtle alchemy of styles and periods permeates this programme placing two great masters of the Germanic tradition, Bach and Brahms, in dialogue with the rippled textures of Ligeti and a contemporary piece by Unsuk Chin dedicated to another titan, Beethoven.
In just five short minutes, Unsuk Chin plies Beethoven’s motifs to bring out contrasts and latent forces, offering an enthralling tribute to the ‘master from Bonn’ for the 250th anniversary of his birth. And as the Korean composer was trained by Ligeti, Atmosphères (1961) makes a fitting transition—a work of now famous timbral surfaces, and with micro-polyphonies undulating different sways and intensities in a confounding demonstration of sound magic.
Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, a mature work marked by a distinct ambiance and autumnal classicism, is a masterpiece of grandeur and melancholy, with epic accents reminiscent of Dvořák. Its last movement, in the form of a chaconne, quotes a chorale by Bach, whose cantata ‘Ich habe genug’ is a pure marvel, evoking the emotion of the old man Simeon before the infant Jesus.