Gruppen at the Tate Modern: Sir Simon Rattle, Matthias Pintscher & Duncan Ward

This weekend, conductors Sir Simon Rattle, Matthias Pintscher and Duncan Ward join the London Symphony Orchestra for two performances of Stockhausen’s Gruppen in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

Rarely heard live due to its musical and practical demands, Stockhausen’s composition for three orchestras has been dubbed “a landmark in 20th-century music” (Musical Times, 1967), and was last performed by the LSO 35 years ago. Saturday’s performances, which sold out within minutes, will be the first of their kind in the UK to take place outside of a concert hall.

The performances open with Messiaen’s fanfare for brass, winds and percussion, Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum, a work the composer himself said was “destined for vast spaces”. The Tate Modern’s huge Turbine Hall will have no set seating, allowing audience-members to experience different perspectives of the work’s sound.

All three conductors have performed the work before, including: Sir Simon with John Carewe and Daniel Harding for CBSO’s Towards The Millennium series; Duncan last month with the Vienna Radio Symphony, Cornelius Meister and Dietger Holm at the Hamburg Musikfest; and Matthias with the New York Philharmonic and conductors Alan Gilbert and Magnus Lindberg.

The trio and the LSO will join forces again, this time with the Orchestra of the Lucerne Festival Academy, for two performances of Gruppen at the Lucerne Festival in September.

Duncan recently spoke to the LSO about conducting Gruppen, and the preparation necessary:

“The radically different aspect of preparation necessary for Gruppen, however, is that the conductors need to practise by themselves without any other musicians present. Three conductors sat in a room frantically waving their hands at each other in silence is a strange sight indeed, but absolutely crucial to the success of this piece. Stockhausen recommends six such sessions of two hours each!”

Sir Simon Rattle explains how he came to be mounting the production in the video below:

BBC Radio 3 will record the performances to broadcast at 8.10pm that evening (30 June), and then to stream online in binaural 3D sound.

Find out more at the links below:

Tate Modern website
LSO website
BBC Radio 3 broadcast

Photo: Tate Modern by Aurelien Guichard on / CC BY-SA 2.0 licence

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