Grazie per il meraviglioso incontro con il Mahler Chamber Orchestra – saluti da Ferrara!

»Amor vecchio non fa ruggine« – zu deutsch: Alte Liebe rostet nicht!

Wir waren wieder in Ferrara zu Gast – diesmal mit »Métamorphoses« von Sasha Waltz zu Musiken von Iannis Xenakis, Ruth Wiesenfeld, Georg Friedrich Haas und Györgi Ligeti. Mit uns reiste das fantastische Mahler Chamber Orchestra, dessen Violinist Tim Summers hier über unser gemeinsames Gastspiel am Teatro Comunale di Ferrara berichtet hat.

Da von Reisen am besten derjenige berichtet, der sie miterlebt hat, geht es hier mit einem Auszug aus Tims Text weiter: Von der Überwindung der Schwerkraft bei Ligeti, barfüßiger Percussion und Eis mit frischen Feigen – mille grazie für deinen schönen Text, Tim!

»Over the course of the day and half of the next, we play through all the pieces with dancers. We hear the percussion solo of Robyn Schulkowsky (another work of Xenakis, combined with one of her own). She plays radically, without shoes.

And then we hear for the first time the Ligeti String Quartet. This is an enchantingly beautiful piece, and the choreography seems only to amplify it — to allow it a brief, waltzing/gliding victory over gravity, even a kind of victory over dance (are they carried away by dancers, or are the dancers carried away?). Suddenly there is humour and reference. The sense of lift from the opening scales lasts throughout.

On Thursday afternoon there is time to notice how fine the weather is in Ferrara. There is time for an afternoon of sleep and exercise after grigliata (a plateful of grilled meats) at lunch. Some clouds, some sun. The air is warming.

Thursday night is the general rehearsal, the run-through: lighting adjustments; sequences and procedures; entries and exits; technical decision-making; and generally moving from place to place to make sure that things happen. The choreography for the Wiesenfeld quartet distributes us to the four corners of the stage, with a separate spotlight for each player. Xenakis (percussion) is wild with women and drums. Haas (the quartet) takes place in a blinding light, with a dark-clad pair of dancers. Open Spaces spreads the orchestra cheerfully throughout the theatre. Ligeti floats and speaks elegantly. For the last piece, Xenakis’ Aurora, our tight, murderous chorus of strings stands at stage left. The dancers move and move and strain and run. They move beautifully, a dream of possible motion made real. Each piece begins to find its atmosphere, and to live with the others. And then we are through.


On Friday the 21st, preparation is mostly complete. There is time for a bit of the town, and time to notice that this year February is full of the springtime to come. In the park just outside the city walls, the grass is drunk with green. The winter fog had given way in the morning — burned away, you might even venture to say — and after lunch we go to get ice cream in the late-winter sun. The usual ice cream store is closed for the construction on the plaza by the duomo, but that would of course be only temporary, and anyway the mud from the digging makes a good smell. We find another place, across from the theatre soon to be renamed for Claudio Abbado, and get gelato with figs.«

© Mahler Chamber Orchestra/ Tim Summers