Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s third year as Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival opens with a performance of Messiaen’s Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Both are significant for Aimard, who was deeply influenced by Messiaen and three years ago as incoming artistic director, determined to make Aldeburgh a home for key artists. Sir Simon last came to the Festival in 1991 to conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 and, following the Messiaen will be joined by Magdelena Kožená for a performance of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde.
Setting the tone for the sixteen days of music making that follow, the first Saturday features the first of two concert performances of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. Angelika Kirchschlager sings Lucretia and Ian Bostridge the male chorus with the Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble conducted by Oliver Knussen. Claire Booth, who in the last two years was heard at the Festival in George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill and settings by Birtwistle and Stravinsky, sings the role of Lucia; and Christopher Purves, who benefited from an Aldeburgh Residency and gave his first ever recital at the Festival, sings Collatinus. On Sunday, the 5th anniversary of Ligeti’s death, Snape will be given over to a day of commemoration and celebration.
As befits the Aldeburgh Festival, Britten’s music and that of subsequent generations of composers weaves its way throughout the programming. Britten’s three string quartets will be performed in three separate concerts by the Barbirolli Quartet, the Arcanto Quartet and the Elias Quartet; and the three Cello Suites will be presented alongside contemporary works in three 50 minute concerts spread throughout the second Tuesday of the Festival and performed by Jean-Guihen Queyras.
Elliott Carter’s Conversations receives its world première from Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Colin Currie and BCMG, marking the third consecutive year that Aldeburgh will feature a Carter première; oboist Melinda Maxwell will give the UK première of Birtwistle’s completed Oboe Quartet; Peter Eötvös will conduct the London Sinfonietta in a programme that includes his own 15 minute work co-commissioned by the Festival; and Marco Stroppa – with whom Aimard first collaborated in 1986 when he premièred Stroppa’s Traiettoria for piano and synthetic sounds and more recently in a project for the Klavier Festival Ruhr – will be the subject of a composer portrait as well as having his work for solo viola premièred by Tabea Zimmermann. Tabea Zimmermann who met Aimard through Ligeti, has been a frequent guest of the Festival since the mid-90’s.
New to the Festival are Matthias Goerne who, with Aimard, will perform Schubert’s three song cycles: Die schöne Müllerin, Winterreise and Schwanengesang over three days; clarinetist and composer, Jörg Widmann who will perform with the Arcanto Quartet, and with Tabea Zimmermann and Kirill Gerstein; and Spira Mirabilis, the chamber orchestra of freelance players drawn from some of Europe’s finest young orchestral players, who represent a completely fresh approach to music making and its relationship to society. Spira Mirabilis’ performances are the result of an Aldeburgh Residency, enabling the artists to stay at Snape and give spontaneous performances in the proximity during the course of the Festival.
And finally, following the success of last year’s The Way to the Sea which marked the centenary of Thorpeness, Aldeburgh have commissioned director and video artist Netia Jones to develop “everlasting light: the life of Sizewell”. This journey through Sizewell village and beach will be interspersed with a choreographed sound design and hidden sources of sound and film projects. Sizewell village and its surroundings present the backdrop for a narrative sound world exploring unexpected and bewildering contrasts.
Aldeburgh Music is the recipient of the 2010 Walpole Award for British Cultural Excellence.