Vito Žuraj (Slovenian composer, born 1979)

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Berliner Philharmonie, Herbert-von-Karajan-Straße, Berlin

In response to a Berlin Philharmonic commission, Vito Žuraj has composed Anemoi, for large orchestra, descriptive of Greek wind-gods in the most vivid and incident-packed way (standard instruments – oboes, horns, harp – masquerading as ancient ones) with plenty of activity at speed, much drama, and recurring quotations from the first movement of Debussy’s La mer. Anemoi is a sonic and scenic spectacular sustaining twenty-three minutes impressively, suggesting Xenakis’s orchestral music at times, given a brilliant first performance; the second is tomorrow.

Bruckner Three in its original score is the longest of its publications, its quirks of design and orchestration endearing themselves to the listener, especially in a no-apologies rendition such as this, François­-Xavier Roth committed to every pause and detour, the Berliners responding with devotion to the thrills and reflections of the outer movements, the beauties of the slow one, the energies of the Scherzo and the dance of its Trio. For all the Symphony’s breadth and repetition, it ends abruptly, and Roth saw no reason to contradict this.

Premiere performance – Bavarian Radio SO/Simon Rattle.

German premiere – Jean-Guihen Queyras/Gürzenich-Orchester Köln/François-Xavier Roth.