Matthus "Concerto for Five" Rocks Berlin Philharmonic
A sold-out house, including an unusual number of young faces, thundered enthusiastic and extended applause when the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle presented the world premiere of Siegfried Matthus's Concerto for Five, in a performance now available via the Orchestra's new Internet subscription service. The German master's latest tour de force, a Berlin Philharmonic commission, is a 28-minute composition that not only features the virtuosity of the solo quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn) but of the entire orchestra composed of trumpets, trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, electric bass guitar, and strings. Although played from beginning to end without breaks, the work nevertheless has movement-like sections of contrasting character suggesting traditional structures, i.e., Intrada energico—Ballata ritmico—Rhapsodia con espressione—Scherzo leggiero—Cadenza—Ciacona (with five little conceranti) & Finale.
The woodwind quintet was made up of the Berlin Philharmonic's principal players but the witty surprise of the evening came from a sixth soloist. The Concerto begins with an extended timpani lick performed by none other than Sir Simon—an amusing and nostalgic reference to his musical origins as a percussion man—before taking up his conducting duties on the podium.
The Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung describes the Concerto for Five as "dramaturgically atmospheric. It has an immense drive and provides visible pleasure to musicians and public alike....Bravos and tempestuous applause for all."
Ditto, says Irene Anders of the Ruppiner Anzeiger: "Musicians and public took visible joy from this type of 'entertainment.' As one listened, one could picture an imaginary scene. The dramaturgy was perfect and Matthus demonstrated again that he is a master of theatrical music, even though we are dealing here with an orchestral work and not an opera....There was stormy applause and many bravos for this wonderful concerto."
"The successful result of a fascinating game full of virtuosic glitter that the happy freshness of its chain of movements brought to magnificent fruition." — Neues Deutschland
The Berliner Morgenpost has long been a fan, having reported years ago that if there were such a thing as a German national composer, Matthus could lay claim to the title. Their music critic, Klaus Geitel, writes: "But Matthus always writes music with human countenance. He is not interested in formalism. He doesn't give a hoot about any academic cleverness. He targets solely the interests of those who love music, and those he captures without currying any favors, and he does it by way of his honesty, joyous inspiration, and intelligence. The Philharmonic heartily welcomed his new work."
The Concerto for Five is published by Interklang Musikverlag. Information and examination material in North America available from Music Associates of America.