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Rounding off his first season as the National Symphony's resident music director, Gianandrea Noseda presents a thrilling program of works inspired by Baroque master Johannes Sebastian Bach. Together with Canadian violin virtuoso James Ehnes, the ensemble will perform modern Italian composer Luciano Berios' arrangement of Bach's unfinished Contrapunctus XIX, Alban Berg's Violin Concerto and Brahms' Symphony No. 34 in E Major. Whilst he may be the thread that ties these works together, Bach did not survive to see them performed in his lifetime.
A distinguished experimental composer, Berio is considered a pioneer of electronic music. Believing the music of the past and present to exist in a lively dialogue, he turned his talents to the orchestral realm. He does not attempt to finish Bach's unfinished contrapunctus in the traditional sense but sustains its last notes to evoke a flat-lining vital signs monitor.
Marrying the Western counterpoint art form to the American popular tradition, Berio's piece is a thought-provoking start to the evening's program, which closes with a rousing rendition of Brahms' Fourth Symphony. Employing the form of Bach's Nach Dir, Herr, verlanget mich cantata, the work teems with rhythmic and polyphonic intensity, and has become a classic of the modern orchestra repertory thanks to its soul-stirring melancholy, emotional depth, satisfying symphonic arrangement and cathartic climax.
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