Josef Špaček & Beethoven - John Luther Adams Become Ocean
Kris Defoort, Human voices only (Belgian premiere)
Ludwig van Beethoven, Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61
John Luther Adams, Become ocean (Belgian premiere)
Human voices only, written in 2014, is the first orchestral work by Belgian composer and avant-garde jazz pianist Kris Defoort. He found his inspiration for this piece in Morocco: “I was on a flat roof during Ramadan and everywhere I heard these chants, infinite melodies that consist of only a few notes but with immeasurable variations. Voices that never stop.” With many references to early-twentieth-century composers such as Debussy, Ravel, Satie and Stravinsky, Kris Defoort lets the instruments of the orchestra play through the various facets of the human voice, returning to a never-ending Arabic melody.
Four soft timpani beats open Beethoven’s only Violin Concerto. According to some, the recurring timpani motif in the first movement reflects the euphoric mood that prevailed during the French Revolution. Major upheavals were in store and anything seemed possible. The premiere of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto was only a moderate success because the score was completed much too late and the soloist had to sight-read parts during the concert. Years after Beethoven’s death, however, the Violin Concerto was resurrected by Mendelssohn and began its triumphant march through European concert halls.
The Belgian National Orchestra goes on to dive deep below the water’s surface with the composition Become ocean by John Luther Adams. The New Yorker described this work as “the most beautiful apocalypse in the history of music”. Become ocean is part of a cycle that John Luther Adams composed, based on the four elements. He believes that humanity is able to transcend the isolation and cynicism of modern society by seeking contact with something greater than itself. The piece was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2014. The performance represents a world premiere, as the music is accompanied by a film by video artist Lillevan.
Joshua Weilerstein, conductor
Josef Špaček, violin
Performed with the support of the Tax Shelter of the Belgian federal government.