Musical listening at the 39th International Willems® Congress

Musical listening at the 39th International Willems® Congress

This year, Christophe Lazerges proposed a new way of opening the Congress.
The idea was simply to listen to a 10-15 minute sequence of music each day, presented in a sober manner.

Among 20th century composers, the choice went to works dating from the end of the 2nd World War, 1943-44, by Olivier Messiaen, a Frenchman, and Dimitri Shostakovich, a Russian, echoing the concert on Tuesday 18 July during which we heard “Annelies” by the British composer James Whitbourn (born in 1963), a work composed from the Diary of Anne Franck written between 1942 and 1944.
This was followed by two resolutely non-conformist and atonal works dating from 1966 and 1969, by Luciano Berio (Italian) and André Boucourechliev (Bulgarian, naturalised French).
Finally, a contemporary work created in 2005 by Lebanese composer Rabih Abou-Khalil, combining world music and instruments and leaving plenty of room for improvisation.

This choice was also inspired by the themes chosen for the workshop on ‘Improvisation in all its forms’: rhythmic, melodic, polyphonic, harmonic and instrumental.

Here is the programme of works performed, with names in bold referring to articles and biographies on Wikipedia:

  • Wednesday 19 July: by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), the 3rd and 4th movements of his Trio Op.67 No.2 for violin, cello and piano.
    Recorded by Isaac Stern, violin – Yo-Yo Ma, cello – Emanuel Ax, piano.
  • Thursday 20 July: by Luciano Berio (1925-2003), Sequenza III for soprano, dedicated to Cathy Berberian who premiered it in 1966.
    The chosen recording is an adaptation for 2 sopranos: Cathy Berberian and Barbara Hannigan.
  • Friday 21 July: by André Boucourechliev (1925-1997), Archipel IV for piano.
    Performed by Georges Pludermacher.
  • Saturday 22 July: by Rabih Abou-Khalil (born 1957), “Arabian Waltz”, by the “Silk Road Ensemble” led by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.