Béla Bartók  / Olga Neuwirth  / Zoltán Kodály


Aziz Shokhakimov, the spirited young conductor from Uzbekistan, is embracing works featuring national identity and images, and Olga Neuwirth’s Mahlerian-style.

The long orchestral work by Olga Neuwirth stems from a dream, a dream that her grandfather was standing in a sunny meadow with an old tape recorder playing lieder, and bidding her to listen to them. “They tell the story of my life, all of it, living on the fringe, as a person who has always felt out of place in my environment in Austria!” The figure of the forebear, originally from a harbor town, at times Venice, and at other times reminiscent of a Croatian or Hungarian influence, is depicted through fragments of melodies conjuring up different stages in his life, and repeatedly disrupted by the terse scansion of a tick-tock metronome. Audiences must listen to this Mahler-like flow “as if they were hearing something dreamt, as if each individual were dreaming while listening.” Here is a poetical reflection on the obliteration of memories, thus approaching the subject of identity, ever-changing identity, as understood when journeying or roaming (“masaot” in Hebrew) through the realm of the Danube as traveled by Claudio Magris. The music flows towards the Black Sea and has been written by a composer who feels she is finally free to write what she wants to write, enjoying freedom which she relates to the man without qualities in Robert Musil’s novel.
Here Masaot can be seen in relation to music asserting or challenging national identities:  Béla Bartók in the tension between the Beethovenian superego, homeland melodies and birdsong which, in the slow movement of the Piano Concerto No. 3, express freedom with far greater eloquence than any human speech.