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Piano and art-song recital “near and far”


When seemingly Austrian, folk-music-like sounds meet contemporary composition, the result is a spectrum that leads the listener into a field of tension between the familiar and the unknown. The point of departure for the evening’s musical journey was the Austrian Suite, op. 107, written in 2016 and premiered in 2018, by composer, artist, and adult educator Johannes Simetsberger, and expressively interpreted on the piano by Ines Schüttengruber.

Ernst Krenek referred to the twelve-tone song cycle Ballad of the Railroads, op. 98 (1944) – this evening’s second station and masterfully performed by tenor Martin Vácha – as his “American travel book,” an allusion to his Reisebuch aus den Österreichischen Alpen (Travel Book from the Austrian Alps) of 1929. He wrote the text himself in English. The railroad that is sung about in the cycle becomes a metaphorical vehicle for his personal travels and his experiences in exile, of the rootlessness and searching, always accompanied by childhood memories, hopes, and fears.

The last item on the program was a piano work brilliantly interpreted by Ines Schüttengruber: the subsequently composed Echoes from Austria, op. 166 (1958). At that point in time, Krenek looked upon his Austrian homeland with somewhat greater detachment and growing idealization. He based the composition on folklore from Austria. Two songs from Francis Poulenc’s Banalités were given as encores.

Anecdotes and texts by Ernst Krenek, selected and entertainingly presented by Eva Maria Stöckler, framed the musical program in an intermezzo-like manner, and showed Krenek from different sides: humorous and cynical, optimistic and skeptical. Following the performance, over a glass of wine, a stimulating exchange developed between the artists and the audience, devoted to questions concerning the artistic access to Krenek’s works and personal details from the life of the artist. Composer Johannes Simetsberger also spoke about his compositional work.

The next dates in the series Ernst Krenek Forum live:

26. April 2018 “Every Goal is a New Beginning” – Perspectives, Discussions, Music

24. Mai 2018   Audible Atoms – Ernst Krenek’s synthesizer newly interpreted

28. Juni 2018  Duo Mike Svoboda & Anton Kernjak