Concerto for orchestra

[1992/93] | duration: 28’00”

The 100th anniversary of the Tyrolean Symphony Orchestra was the occasion for the commission of a larger orchestral work. The concrete design was left to the composer’s discretion. Nothing was more obvious to him than to make the jubilee the subject of his work and to write a “Concerto for orchestra”.

The designation “Concerto for orchestra” contains a contradiction in itself, despite the tremendous associations that have arisen since Bartók’s epochal creation. After all, the principle of competition between one (or more) individual(s) and a group that determines the form of the concerto appears to be abolished by the obvious omission of soloists.

But in truth, it is not a soloist who has been displaced, but rather, the collective which emancipates itself, which declares to be the soloist itself, whereby the combative element turns inward, as it were: the group unravels, and inner structures become visible. The musical representation of different kinds of behavior, as they are typical for people interacting in a large group, proven to be the challenge in writing a “Concerto for Orchestra”. In other words, it is an attempt to illuminate the orchestra as a “soloist” – and at the same time to make the individual “stones of the mosaic”, the musicians – audible in their turn, both as groups and as individuals.

Hence, in the course of the piece, a wide variety of processes is launched, just as they can occur within a community. Only gradually do all the members assemble as a cohesive unit. Often smaller formations gather, compete or even fight against each other. Individuals supersede others and come to the fore, oppose the masses, or produce a “snowball effect”. One individual gives the impulse, the others join in, and gradually one “brick” piles on top of the other. In all of this, we can observe basically two behavioral “communication patterns”: “with each other” and “against each other”. Both take shape with regard to the musical rhetoric. That is, the composition repeatedly oscillates between synchronicity and asynchronicity. Passages of rhythmic lockstep alternate with sections in which individual instrumental parts seem to run independently, even seeming to explicitly contradict one another. The terms “order” and “chaos” represent here the poles of  group dynamic processes.

However, the music does not tell a “story”; the formal structure of the Concerto for Orchestra is purely musically determined and not at all narrative. In this respect, too, the term “concerto” refers to absolute music without an extra-musical “program”.

This is especially true for the form. It obeys the principle of a three-part concept, but is not connected to any traditional genre. The core of the uninterrupted, 25-minute work, its center of gravity, is a fugue, which is surrounded by a fast, energetic part, after which its “recapitulation” increases in a rapid stretta to the utmost. Finally, a slow section divided into variations circles around this fast movement on another orbit in which some important soloists of the orchestra are featured individually. The “entrance and exit door” is then formed by a ff-chord of the entire orchestra and an associated “debate” of the brass.

In addition, by incorporating electronics, Martin Lichtfuss has attempted to give the instrument “orchestra” new expressive perspectives. Without abandoning or denying the identity of traditional instruments, their timbres mutate in combination with sounds from synthesizers and samplers, are alienated or conjoin to create an unusual sound impression whose origin remains fascinatingly mysterious. Sound material provided by current technology thus opens up new perspectives on natural instruments and merges with their sounds, whose liveliness is irreplaceable.

Press (in german)

Martin Lichtfuss komponierte nun speziell zum 100. Geburtstag des Innsbrucker Klangkörpers ein »Konzert für Orchester«, das bei seiner Uraufführung vorerst einmal am regionalen Musikhimmel als Kometenschweif aufleuchtete. […]

Lichtfuss legte […] eine technisch extrem aufwendige und rhythmisch vertrackte Partitur vor. Der Umsetzung […] widmeten sich das Orchester und sein Chefdirigent Kasper de Roo aber mit höchster Konzerntration und brillanten instrumentalen Leistungen. […]

Der Klangfarbenreichtum des Werkes – die Auswirkung einer exzellenten Instrumentation – schließt auch aufrauhende bis verspielte elektronische Effekte ein. Lichtfuss gibt den Musikern ausreichend Gelegenheit zum »Konzertieren«, zu Dialogen, aber auch zu Gegenreden.

Rainer Lepuschitz, Tiroler Tageszeitung   24-09-1993

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