Robert SchumannRequiem für Mignon op. 98b / Symphony no. 4 op. 120 in D minor / Nachtlied op. 108 / Manfred op. 115 ConductorSir John Eliot Gardiner / Choir The Monteverdi Choir / Speaker Gert Voss
The Mahler Chamber Orchestra returns to Madrid with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the sensational Monteverdi Choir that he founded in 1964. The concert marks the completion of a larger tour taking the MCO from its residence in Ferrara to Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas in the Canary Islands and ending finally with two concerts on the Spanish mainland, in Barcelona and Madrid. The MCO is regularly invited to perform in Madrid.
The orchestra has wished for many years to play under the baton of British conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Now, the first programme in collaboration with him will consist of choral and orchestral works by Schumann, a composer Gardiner is renowned for both studying and performing. Gardiner’s recordings - made with original instruments and based on a faithful, scholarly approach to Schumann’s scores - have fundamentally influenced the way we understand the composer. Together with the Monteverdi Choir, which he has led now for nearly 50 years, Gardiner set new standards in the repertoire for chorus and orchestra.
The central piece in the programme will be Schumann’s incidental music to Manfred by Lord Byron. The great German actor and Vienna Burgtheater star, Gert Voss, will appear as the speaker. Together with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and Voss, MCO cellist Philipp von Steinaecker, who serves as Gardiner’s assistant, created an abridged version of the text especially for this tour, as the original version, nearly 2 hours in length, would have been too long for the concert format. The text is now arranged in such a way as to support and intensify Byron’s technique of illuminating various aspects of Manfred’s character through a series of encounters with other persons. In the new version of the text only two characters are present in each scene, Manfred and one other, and all are played by Gert Voss.
In undertaking the task of cutting more than half of the text, Philipp was committed to retaining the order of scenes so as not to change the dramaturgy of the music. Every word of the resulting text is original Byron: nothing was altered or added. In particular, the texts immediately before and after musical interludes remain exactly as Schumann prescribed so that the music always reacts to or prepares the way for the same words that inspired Schumann. The complete text will be recited and sung in German, with super-titles in the language of the host country.
The programme also includes Schumann’s Symphony Nr. 4 and the rarely performed choral works Requiem for Mignon and Nachtlied. The solo parts will be performed by the outstanding singers of the Monteverdi Choir.