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Encore Series: Magdalena Kožená and Basel La Cetra Baroque Orchestra
Information
Information
Programme
Programme
About The Performers
About The Performers
Ticketing
Ticketing
Pre-concert Talk
Pre-concert Talk

Magdalena Kožená's Adventure Across the Centuries (Ernest Wan)

It is a nice coincidence that the celebrated Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená should come to Hong Kong just months after her husband Simon Rattle did with the Berliner Philharmoniker in his final season as its principal conductor.  I fondly remember braving a snowstorm some years ago to hear the couple – her as Mélisande in a production of Debussy's opera, with him in the orchestra pit.

Equally memorable, yet more relevant to her upcoming performance in Hong Kong, was a song recital I attended more recently, where she presented sets of songs in four languages.  Most of these sets involved the portrayal of multiple characters in highly contrasting scenarios.  Kožená clearly enjoyed the huge challenge of quickly switching between characters, sometimes within a single song!  This special penchant for "multitasking" is likewise displayed in the programme of her extraordinary Hong Kong concert with the Basel La Cetra Baroque Orchestra.

The programme revolves around the great Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643), and its centrepiece is his Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda.  This is a dramatic scene in which a duel between the title characters, which come from Tasso's famous epic poem based on the First Crusade, ends in tragedy: one warrior deals the other a mortal blow, only to find out the latter is the woman he loves.  The most important character in this scene, however, is the narrator, and in fact Kožená is going to enact all three roles, complete with costumes, props, lighting and stage design, in a unique one-woman show!

Monteverdi was very much an "avant-garde" composer of his day, and his score uses the voice in innovative ways as well as pioneers such novel techniques of string playing as the pizzicato and the tremolo – which have since become commonplace – in order to depict vividly the violent conflict and the mood swings of the characters.

This experimentation with instrumental techniques is echoed by that of another work on the programme, written over 300 years later, namely, Sequenza III by fellow Italian Luciano Berio (1925–2003).  The instrument in this case is the unaccompanied female voice.  The performer's singing, muttering, laughing, whimpering, coughing, gasping and whatnot – all are treated equally musically.  This seemingly hysterical roller coaster of a piece is a fascinating study of abruptly changing emotional states, certain to be an ear-opening experience for many music lovers.

As a sort of bridge between the centuries, a new work was commissioned by Kožená for this project, with music and libretto by her compatriots, respectively, Marko Ivanović (born 1976) and Ondřej Havelka (born 1954), the project's stage director.  Titled Arianna Has a Problem, the work is a 21st-century response to Monteverdi’s heart-rending Lamento d’Arianna, in which the Cretan princess has been deserted on an island by the Athenian hero Theseus, and now wishes to die.

Just as adventurous as the advocacy of new music is the exploration of old but unfamiliar works.  Both the conductor Andrea Marcon and the Basel La Cetra Baroque Orchestra are known for their passion for rediscovering unjustly neglected music of the past.  I went just a few years ago to a performance of Marcon and the Venice Baroque Orchestra, of which he is the founder.  The programme centred on the well-liked Vivaldi, but I was delighted to hear obscure quality works they had chosen to play. In a similar spirit, the Hong Kong programme will be interspersed with instrumental pieces by other Italian composers of the early Baroque period – Marco Uccellini, Tarquinio Merula, Dario Castello and Biagio Marini – whose music is probably new to most concertgoers.

In sum, this promises to be an unusually intriguing performance unlike any other!

Con che soavi accenti

Uccellini

Aria quinta sopra La Bergamasca (from Sonate, arie et correnti, Op. 3)

Monteverdi

Disprezzata Regina (from L'incoronazione di Poppea)*

Merula

Folle è ben che si crede, Op. 13, No. 6 (from Curtio precipitato et altri capricii)*

 

Ballo detto Pollicio (from Canzoni overo sonate concertate per chiesa e camera, Op. 12, No. 24)

Monteverdi

Sì dolce è'l tormento, SV 332*

Castello

Sonata XV a Quattro (from Sonate concertate in stil moderno, Libro II) 

Ivanović

Arianna Has a Problem (Arr. from Monteverdi's Lamento d'Arianna)*

Berio

Sequenza III*

Marini

Passacaglio a Quattro (from Per ogni sorte d’istrumento musicale diversi generi di sonate, da chiesa e da camera, Op. 22)

Monteverdi

Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (from Madrigali guerrieri ed amorosi)*

* Mezzo-soprano solo

 

The performance will run for about 1 hour and 30 minutes including a 15 minute intermission.

Audience is strongly advised to arrive punctually.  Latecomers will only be admitted during the intermission or at a suitable break.

The presenter reserves the right to change the programme and substitute artists.

Magdalena Kožená (Mezzo-soprano)

One of the leading mezzo-sopranos of her generation, Magdalena Kožená was born in Brno, studied at the Brno Conservatoire and with Eva Blahová at the College of Performing Arts in Bratislava.  She was awarded several major prizes in both the Czech Republic and internationally, culminating in the 6th International Mozart Competition in Salzburg in 1995.  She was the 2004 Gramophone Awards Artist of the Year and in 2009 she received a Gramophone Award for her recording of the Julietta Fragments by Bohuslav Martinů with Sir Charles Mackerras and the Czech Philharmonic.  She is a Deutsche Grammophon artist.

Kožená is well established as a major concert and recital artist.  Recital appearances have taken her to London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Amsterdam, Vienna, Hamburg, Lisbon, Prague, Copenhagen, Tokyo, San Francisco, and New York’s Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall.  She has also appeared at the Munich, Salzburg, Lucerne, Schwarzenberg Schubertiade, Aldeburgh and Edinburgh festivals with pianists include Daniel Barenboim, Yefim Bronfman, Malcolm Martineau, Andras Schiff and Mitsuko Uchida. 

In concert Kožená has collaborated with many of the world’s foremost orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic and Czech Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as well as Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.  She works with conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Mariss Jansons, Gustavo Dudamel, Bernard Haitink, Jiří Bělohlávek, Sir Roger Norrington and Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

Kožená's wide opera repertoire spans works by Monteverdi, Handel, Gluck, Mozart, Strauss and Janáček and has appeared with the Salzburg festivals, Metropolitan Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper and Aix Festival, Royal Opera House and Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin.

 

Andrea Marcon (Conductor)

Conductor, organist, and harpsichordist Andrea Marcon was born in Treviso and studied in the Basel’s Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.  He won first prize in the organ competition at Innsbruck in 1986 and first prize for harpsichord at Bologna in 1991.  Marcon founded the Venice Baroque Orchestra in 1997 and has since led the group to international acclaim.  He has been the artistic director of Basel La Cetra Baroque Orchestra since 2009.

Today Marcon is widely recognised as a leading interpreter of the Baroque and Classical periods.  He is a regular guest conductor at the Oper Frankfurt, and he has been invited by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, Danish National Orchestra and other orchestras.  He was appointed as the artistic director of the Symphony Orchestra of Granada for the 2012-13 season.  In 2012 he made his highly acclaimed début with the Berliner Philharmoniker with a pure Vivaldi programme including Gloria.  He has collaborated with artists such as Magdalena Kožená, Philippe Jaroussky, Franco Fagioli, Nicola Benedetti, Giuliano Carmignola, Viktoria Mullova to name a few.

Marcon has recorded more than 50 recordings.  For his recordings as organist and harpsichordist he has been awarded four times with the Deutschen Schallplatten Kritik prize.  His recordings as conductor have also received several accolades, including the Diapason D’Or, the Vivaldi Award of the Cini Foundation, the Echo Klassik Award and the Edison Prize.

 

Basel La Cetra Baroque Orchestra

Founded in 1999 at the initiative of Peter Reidemeister with a mission to bring the music of the past to life with a fresh, dynamic and contemporary approach, the Basel La Cetra Baroque Orchestra has worked regularly with many well-known guest conductors and soloists and performed in major international festivals as well as Europe’s leading concert halls.  The orchestra has been recognised as one of the leading chamber orchestras of early-music in the world.

The name La Cetra refers to the ancient lyre or zither, and is taken from the title of Antonio Vivaldi’s collection of 12 Violin Concertos, Op. 9 first published in Amsterdam in 1727.  Most of the musicians of the Basel La Cetra Baroque Orchestra are the graduates of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.  As the artistic Director of the orchestra, Andrea Marcon is known internationally as one of the preeminent conductors of Baroque and early Classical repertoire.  Antonio Caldara’s La Concordia de’ pianeti was rediscovered by Marcon and performed for the first time in nearly 300 years in concert in Dortmund, Germany.  On that occasion it was also recorded for the Deutsche Grammophon label.    

 

Information provided by the artists

 

DATE
VENUE
PRICE
11.04.2018 (Wed)
20:00
Concert Hall, Hong Kong City Hall
location
$420, $350, $280, $200
DATE
11.04.2018 (Wed)
20:00
PRICE
$420, $350, $280, $200

Tickets available from 5 March at URBTIX outlets, on Internet, by Mobile Ticketing App and Credit Card Telephone Booking.

“Great Music” Package Discount

For each purchase of standard tickets for "Magdalena Kožená and Basel La Cetra Baroque Orchestra", "Paco Peña and Friends – Esencias", "Piano Recital by Dang Thai Son", "Ton Koopman and Amsterdam Baroque Choir" and "Artemis Quartet", the following concession applies:

5% off for any 2 programmes, 10% off for any 3 programmes, 15% off for any 4 programmes, 20% off for all 5 programmes.

“Great Music” Group Booking Discount

For each purchase of standard tickets for "Magdalena Kožená and Basel La Cetra Baroque Orchestra", "Paco Peña and Friends – Esencias", "Piano Recital by Dang Thai Son", "Ton Koopman and Amsterdam Baroque Choir" and "Artemis Quartet", the following concession applies:

10% off for each purchase of 4 – 9 standard tickets, 15% off for 10 – 19 standard tickets, 20% off for 20 or more standard tickets.

Half-price tickets available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and the minder, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients (limited tickets for CSSA recipients available on a first-come-first-served basis).

Patrons can enjoy only one of the above discount offers.

 

Programme Enquiries: 2268 7321

Ticketing Enquiries:3761 6661

Credit Card Telephone Booking:2111 5999

Internet Booking:www.urbtix.hk

DATE
VENUE
PRICE
11.04.2018 (Wed)
18:45
North Committee Room, 7/F, High Block, Hong Kong City Hall
location
Admission free on a first-come-first-served basis
DATE
11.04.2018 (Wed)
18:45
PRICE
Admission free on a first-come-first-served basis

Italian Avant-Garde Across the Centuries  (Conducted in Cantonese)

Speaker: Ernest Wan

(Ernest Wan is a writer and translator who specialises in music criticism.)

Admission free on a first-come-first-served basis.

Concert Hall, Hong Kong City Hall
  • date11.04.2018 (Wed) 20:00
  • price$420, $350, $280, $200
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Programme Notes
DATE
VENUE
PRICE
11.04.2018 (Wed)
20:00
Concert Hall, Hong Kong City Hall
location
$420, $350, $280, $200
DATE
11.04.2018 (Wed)
20:00
PRICE
$420, $350, $280, $200