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Cassandra Miller, Thomas Adès

When Sir Simon Rattle took the position of principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic in ‎‎2002, the opening concert was Thomas Adès’ Asyla (1997) and Gustav Mahler’s ‎Fifth Symphony. The choice and combination of pieces for this historical event were no ‎coincidence: both works intensely span a multitude of outlooks of reference, exploring and ‎exploiting, like a kaleidoscope, all the potential of the symphonic language of recent ‎centuries.‎

Alternating between anthropological pessimism and burgeoning vitality, between ‎strangeness and familiarity, the music of Thomas Adès cannot be ignored in the configuration ‎of 21st century canons. His unorthodox views are rooted in the eclectic influence of authors ‎such as Benjamin Britten and Héctor Berlioz, and he views writing as a lighting of paths ‎through interchanged structures. His surrealist look can be found everywhere in his music: a ‎recurring action of approaching and drawing back by listening, a game between opposites ‎that both attract and repel each other, mirrors that overlap and multiply. “Think of the ‎thousands of combinations which we’ve formed, like pawns on a chessboard.” This sentence ‎from his opera The Exterminating Angel (2016) sums up the composer’s ‎aesthetic manifesto like a prophetic maxim.‎

Based on the shared concept of re-reading and reflecting on the conditions that make ‎creation possible, the programme at L’Auditori featuring Arcadiana (1994), ‎‎Three Studies from Couperin (2006) and In Seven Days (2008) ‎guarantees an itinerary completed by three major works in its production, which will close in ‎the autumn of 2021 with the premiere of the violin concerto Humouresques, ‎commissioned by L’Auditori in conjunction with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the ‎Danish National Symphony Orchestra and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, and ‎conducted by the author. ‎

The music of Canadian composer Cassandra Miller deliberately steers clear from the idea of ‎creation out of nothing. Her entire production is a constant testing of projections of echoes ‎and shadows of fragments and traces, a temporary composition of found footage. Her ‎starting materials are extremely varied: fragments of recordings, handwritten notes, ‎snippets of scores. Composition involves diluting the reference until it is imperceptible, until ‎the remnants of its aura have been fully removed. This is when a new listening and proximity ‎threshold can be discerned.‎

Cassandra Miller blurs and dissects the starting point with a meticulous task of cutting out ‎loops and putting them back together in translucent layers. Using a minimalist devising ‎process similar to cinema montage, the disintegration of the references and the contexts in ‎which they are received enable her to project – as in vanitas – a superior reading of all those ‎ephemeral things that vanish, disappear and evaporate. Miller’s music is a great canvas of ‎time where the eruption of space and time coordinates makes it possible to amplify nuances ‎and discover the anatomy of nostalgia based on surviving archetypal sounds. The most basic ‎elements of classical musical rhetoric – the author has a particular predilection for the act of ‎falling or katabasis – become raw and bare. The composer’s visit to L’Auditori provides an ‎unusual opportunity to discover one of today’s most exceptional voices.‎

Jordi Alomar

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