Thursday, 5 July 2018, 8.00 pm
Mass No. 2 E minor, WAB 27 [2nd version 1882]
Kent Nagano, Conductor
Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Download Programme Booklet in German.
Kent Nagano was a close associate of the French composer Olivier Messiaen, whose music is notable for its sense of mysticism and sensuous sonorities. Few conductors know Messiaen’s works as well as Nagano, who is now continuing his Messiaen cycle with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra with one of his mentor’s most radical pieces, the colourful Chronochromie for orchestra. Premiered at the Donaueschingen Festival in 1980, it was introduced to Munich audiences two years later by Pierre Boulez. Its title is a portmanteau word derived from the ancient Greek terms for “time” and “colour” – Messiaen was a great believer in the theory of synaesthesia and ascribed particular tone colours to all his rhythmic models. Chronochromie demands a huge battery of percussion instruments and draws its strength from its pulsating rhythms, while the strings contribute an array of birdcalls. Bruckner’s works are no less rooted in Catholicism than Messiaen’s, and it makes sense, therefore, for Nagano to programme Bruckner’s Mass No. 2 in E minor alongside Messiaen’s orchestral study. The Mass No. 2 was first performed in 1869 at an open-air concert to mark the inauguration of the Votive Chapel at Linz’s planned Cathedral. Such were the circumstances of its first performance that the choir could be accompanied only by a wind band, in this case the winds of the Linz Military Band. It is this original scoring that lends the work its very special tone colour. But the work requires no vocal soloists, presenting the Bavarian Radio Chorus with a grateful challenge and allowing its members to savour the score’s indebtedness to Palestrina’s vocal polyphony in all its transcendent beauty.