31. March 2007

Klangraum Krems Minoritenkirche

Ernst Krenek: Symphonische Elegie in memoriam Anton Webern Olivier Messiaen: Quatuor pour la fin du temps

Krenek Ensemble
Art direction: Ernst Kovacic

Ernst Krenek (1900 – 1991)
Adagio & Fugue from the String Quartet no. 6, op. 78 (1936)
Five Short Pieces for Strings, op. 116 (1948)
Symphonic Elegy, in memoriam Anton Webern, op. 105 (1946)

Within Ernst Krenek’s all but unproblematic relationship to the circle around Arnold Schönberg, Anton Webern remained a close friend and supporter for 15 years—until he was accidentally shot dead on September 15, 1945 by an American soldier of the occupying army. The “Symphonic Elegy, in memoriam Anton Webern”, composed soon after in his American exile, finishes with a “melancholic berceuse”, “a farewell to the friend who died so suddenly”. Ten years earlier it had been Webern’s “concert” op. 24 which inspired Krenek, the artistically all-time alert “wanderer between the times”. The strictness and precision Webern awarded to his music seemed analogous to the moral sharpness of Karl Kraus, whom the literary expert Krenek was admiring on several levels. Thus he composed one of his most uncompromising pieces, the sixth string quartet—like the “Symphonic Elegy” one of his best works. Under the art direction of Ernst Kovacic the Krenek Ensemble is playing an expressive homage to the homage: Ernst Krenek in memoriam Anton Webern.

OLIVIER MESSIAEN (1908 – 1992)
Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time)

Andreas Schablas | clarinet
Ernst Kovacic | violin
Reinhard Latzko | violoncello
Jean-Claude Henriot | piano

Despite the exceptional circumstances of its origin—Messiaen composed the Quartuor pour la fin du temps during the winter of 1940/41 in the German war prison camp Stalag VII in the Schlesian town of Görlitz and preceded it with a passage from the Apocalypse of John—Messiaen’s work is not an “intonation” of the dreadful events of the Second World War or Judgment Day. “My intentions were not to comment on the apocalypse;” said the composer, “all I wanted was to motivate my desire for the revocation of time”—a musical paradox of great creative potential. The Quartet premiered on January 15, 1941 in front of 5000 prisoners in Görlitz. “Never before”, Messiaen reported later, “had anyone listened to my music with such utmost attention and appreciation.”

Based on Messiaen’s quite personal musical message, two years ago an unusual interpretation of the Quartet came into existence in the Colombian city of Cartagena. An interpretation, which combines the aesthetics of contemporary dancing with old South American rites: “El Colegio del Cuerpo” (School of the Body) was founded by the internationally renowned dancer Alvaro Restrepo in 1991 and ever since has enabled street kids and adolescents from the city ghettos to undergo a professional education in contemporary dancing on an artistic level that has caused a worldwide sensation. Restrepo’s choreography Cuarteto para el Fin del Cuerpo (Quartet for the End of the Body) is an image-loaded doomsday roundel between ritual death and mask dances and contemporary visions of a modern apocalypse. Besides laying on a top-class cast including Ernst Kovacic, Reinhard Latzko and Andreas Schablas, this interpretation of Messiaen’s Quartuor lies within the hands of one of the most extraordinary French piano players of our time, Jean Claude Henriot, Messiaen’s co-composer of Quatuor pour la fin du temps.

In cooperation with Ernst-Krenek-Institut and

© Ernst Krenek

© Ernst Krenek