Concert programs Flex Ensemble 2018/2019

Known for their musically refined and highly-energetic performances, the Flex Ensemble has been thrilling audiences in Europe and abroad since 2012 with programs ranging from classical and romantic piano quartet repertoire to modern presentations featuring new commissions by today’s preeminent composers as well as interdisciplinary collaborations with dance, theater and the visual arts.  Flex is committed to enriching the audience’s experience through creative concert presentations and programs that draw listeners deeper into the music.  Outreach programs in schools and original music theater programs for young audiences also feature prominently in their work developing new audiences for concert music.

The new and extraordinary piano quartet

Flex Ensemble: Think Big, photo: Nadezhda Yotzova

photo: Dominick Lack – Living Room Music, May 2017

En France

Maurice Ravel

Ma mère l’Oye (Mother Goose Suite) transcribed for piano quartet by Shintaro Sakabe

Project Chanson

five French Chansons „recomposed“ for piano quartet by Gérard Pesson, Gordon Williamson, Johannes Schöllhorn, Konstantinos Raptis and Sebastiaan Koolhoven

Camille Saint-Saëns
or Gabriel Fauré

Piano Quartet B major op. 41
Piano quartet nr. 1 c minor op. 15

Brassens, Brel, Piaf… these are the names that come to mind when one thinks of French Chanson. But this genre dates back to the troubadours of the Late Middle Ages and contemporary artists such as Stromae are 21st century ‘chansonniers’.  We asked five composers to each write a contemporary arrangement of any French Chanson of their choosing for piano quartet and the results are a diverse mix of classic and unknown Chansons creatively reimagined for piano quartet.  Alongside ‘Project Chanson’, the program features a newly commissioned transcription of Ravel’s classic Mother Goose Suite and the choice of repertoire piano quartets from Fauré or Saint-Saëns to fill out this Francophile evening.

“En France” has been recorded on a new CD to be released in December, 2018!

Zur Premiere in Hannover:

“Das gefühlvolle und professionelle Spiel des Ensembles begeisterte. Ein kreativer und gelungener Auftakt der Reihe!” (NDR Kultur, Agnes Bührig, 22. Nov. 2017)

„Aufhorchen ließ auch die Bearbeitung von Ravels Märchen-Suite: Shintaro Sakabe hat sie für das Flex Ensemble angefertigt und aus dem Original, einem Klavierduo von mittlerer Schwierigkeitsstufe, ein vollwertiges Konzertstück geformt, das an die Ausführenden die höchsten Anfoderungen stellt. Und das Flex Ensemble hat dieser durchaus ungewöhnlichen Einrichtung hörbar viel Aufmerksamkeit geschenkt: Behutsam wurde jede Tongebung und jede Phrasierung abgewogen und geformt, und das Ergebnis der sicherlich mühevollen Arbeit war schlicht begeisternd. Dass der zauberhafte Schlusssatz der Suite am Ende des Konzertes ein weiteres Mal erklang, war sehr willkommen, denn an dem farbenreichen Arrangement kann man sich kaum satt hören. Mit begeistertem Applaus wurden die musikalischen Gäste vom Publikum gefeiert.“ (Westfalen-Blatt, Peter Ernst, 29. Jan. 2018)

Think Big

Ludwig van Beethoven

Sinfonica Eroica op. 55
transcribed for piano quartet
by Ferdinand Ries

Johannes Brahms

Piano Quartet g minor op. 25
[or: Mozart Piano Quartet Nr.2 in E-flat Major K.493]

‘Think Big’ features the exceptional but rarely heard arrangement of Beethoven’s Third Symphony by his trusted friend and student Ferdinand Ries.  The familiar themes and motives of the Eroica are reimagined in a chamber music setting, inviting the audience to hear this monumental work from an entirely fresh perspective.  Schönberg’s orchestral arrangement of the Brahms G Minor Piano Quartet is a better-known example of the ‘think big’ phenomenon; the original Brahms completes this truly ‘symphonic’ evening.

NEW from June 2019! “Slavic Sentiment – Polish Folk Music reloaded”

Paweł Mykietyn (*1971)

New Work for the Flex Ensemble (2019)

Mateusz Smoczynski (*1984)

Polish Folk Music arranged for piano quartet (2019)

Frédéric Chopin (1810 – 1849)

Selected Mazurkas for solo Piano

Krzysztof Penderecki (*1933)

Quartet for Clarinet and String Trio (1993)

with Maximilian Krome – Clarinet

“Another village, another song” is a rough translation of a Polish saying that speaks to the rich musical tradition of this country, where one finds a new song for every occasion.  We open this program with a newly commissioned piece from the celebrated Polish composer Pawel Mykietyn, whose music appears in both concerts and films.  Jazz violinist Mateusz Smoczynski has written new piano quartet arrangements of Polish folk songs that are sure to contrast with Chopin, one of the first composers to integrate elements of Polish folk music into his works.  Our ‘Slavic Sentiment’ program closes with Penderecki’s solemn quartet for clarinet and string trio, a masterwork by one of Poland’s most best-known and beloved living composers.

Piano quartet extended – Collaboration with other art forms

Circular Music (Sprengel Musuem), photo: Dominick Lack

Flex Ensemble mit Lena Visser, photo: Dominick Lack

Phantasmagorical Movements: surrealism in Art, Music, and Dance

Maurice Ravel

Sonata for Violine and Cello

Johannes Ciconia

Le Ray au soleyl

Stephen Hartke

The King of the Sun (1988)

with Lena Visser (dance)

The highly unusual tempo indication “Phantasmagorically” is provided by American composer Stephen Hartke for the second movement of his piano quartet ‘The King of the Sun’.  The Flex Ensemble has taken his suggestion of a dream-like or surrealistic musical character and applied it to the concert program as a whole: they are joined on stage by a dancer, expanding the visual concert experience through choreographed movements inspired by the music but also the musician’s own movements.  The musical character shifts from Ravel’s sublime Sonata for Violin and Cello through to the many movements of Hartke’s piano quartet, with a stop in the Middle Ages in between – Ciconia’s beautiful canon ‘Le Ray au Solely’ from which Hartke drew many motives for his piece.  A further layer of surrealism is possible through the optional projection of several of the Miro paintings from which Hartke also drew inspiration for his work.

“Mir ist als Allererstes aufgefallen, als ich die vier hier kennengelernt habe, wie viel Bewegung bei ihnen im Körper entsteht, wenn sie musizieren”, erzählt Lena Visser. “Das ist quasi nur ein Nebenprodukt, es ist gar nicht auf Performance ausgelegt. Und trotzdem empfinde ich es als Tänzerin wahnsinnig inspirierend – und nehme da ganz viel mit.” (Interview und Probenbesuch, NDR Kultur, Agnes Bührig, 30. Jan..2018)

Circular Music / Neue Musik trifft Video

Snezana Nesic

Solnce Odno Streichtrio (2004/2007)

Jürg Frey

Extended Circular Music no. 1, 2 und 4 (2011-2014)

Gérard Pesson

Mes Béatitudes for piano quartet (1995)
Bruissant divisé for violin and cello (1998)

Igor Stravinsky

Elegie for viola (1944)

with Yoann Trellu, Video-Art

Berlin-based video artist Yoann Trellu joins us for ‘Circular Music’, a program featuring highlights from our modern repertoire accompanied by Trellu’s live, interactive video projection.  Selections from Jürg Frey’s haunting minimalist cycle Extended Circular Music form the core of the program, with works by Pesson, Nesic and Stravinsky interspersed in between.  Trellu’s video is processed live, reacting to sounds and impulses from the musicians.  The video projection covers the entire stage, bringing the musicians into the visuals to complete a uniquely integrated visual and aural concert presentation.

„Silence can also be present in the sounds. In order to have silence in sounds, one must let go of everything which gets in the way of this silence. This sound is a sound without the idea of what it can mean or how it should be used.“  Jörg Frey

Circular Music im Rahmen unserer Konzertreihe imPULS, 15.02.2017, Sprengel Museum Hannover

Tempo di Tango

Horacio Salgán

Del 1 al 5 (Dia de Pago)

Astor Piazzolla

Ballet Tango, Escualo, Tanti Anni Prima,
Tango del Diablo – Romance del Diablo – Vayamos al Diablo

Hugo Diaz

Termal

Rosita Melo

Desde el Alma

Francisco Canaro

Milonga del Buenos Aires

Julián Plaza

Nocturna Milonga

with Kostas Raptis, Bandoneon/Arrangements

Time for the deep and fiery passion of Tango! The Greek bandoneonist Kostas Raptis made several original arrangements especially for the Flex Ensemble and bandoneon.  This program features several works from Piazzolla, but also works by lesser-known tango composers such as Diaz, Melo and Canaro.  The music ranges from virtuosic, crazy miniatures through to wedding waltzes and intimate love songs. Kostas Raptis provides a short introduction about the composers, their works and the tango genre.

imPULS I – Tango Night“, 14.10.2016, Lister Turm Hannover

„Das Tango-Konzert mit dem Flex-Ensemble im Kloster war ein großer Erfolg. Das begeisterte Publikum verabschiedete die Künstler mit Bravorufen und Fußgetrampel.“ (HAZ, Irmgard Gums, 12. Feb. 2018)

NEU (ab April 2019) Easter Transformations – eine alternative Passion mit Arvo Pärt

Arvo Pärt – Stabat Mater (1985) für Streichtrio und Vokaltrio

‘Moderne Predigt’

mit
Ania Vegry – Sopran
N.N. – Alto
Uwe Gottswinter – Tenor
Aufführungsort: Möglichst eine Kirche.

Die berühmten Passionsmusiken von Johann Sebastian Bach hatten ursprünglich den rein religiösen Zweck, die österliche Botschaft zu vermitteln. Auch heute werden sie viel gespielt und gerne gehört zu Ostern, doch die direkte Verbindung ist nicht mehr so stark. Viele jüngere Komponisten – wie Arvo Pärt – die mit diesen religiösen Texten arbeiteten, setzen sie mit ihrer je eigenen musikalischen Sprache in einen modernen Kontext.

Wir wollen eine Auseinandersetzung mit spiritueller Einkehr eingehen und anbieten, jedoch außerhalb eines traditionell religiösen Rahmens. Dazu spielen wir Pärts Stabat Mater in Verbindung mit der Lesung eines Texts, der eine Auseinandersetzung mit den Themen der Passion und Auferstehung in der Gegenwart sucht. Diese ‘moderne Predigt’ wird gefertigt und gelesen von eine junge deutschen Nachwuchsschriftstellerin. Das selten gespielte Stabat Mater für drei SängerInnen und Streichtrio ist in vielerlei Hinsicht eine Realisierung seines Ziels, eine „musical line that is a carrier of the soul, an absolute monody, a naked voice from which everything originates“ zu schaffen. Die Wirkung dieser Musik kann man als eigene religiöse Erfahrung empfinden.

Productions for children

Photo: Martin Keil – Fiona Farbe, June 2015

Photo: Dominick Lack – Living Room Music, May 2017

Musical Painting with Miro: Art and Music

‘The King of the Sun’ by American composer is a long time Flex Ensemble favorite. Each movement of this piece is based on a different painting by the Spanish Master Joan Miro and the work itself is very colorful: there are references to jazz, minimalism, Gregorian chants and the use of modern playing techniques. In this project we give young audiences the chance to draw their own paintings and make their own visual representations of what they hear in the music. The sky is the limit here and the results are always very exciting, also for us! We finish by showing slides of the original Miro paintings for a quick comparison, usually we find some improvements!

  • Suitable from age 7,
  • duration ca. 45 minutes.

Living Room Music: what’s in your living room?

From many years of working with outreach programs, the Flex Ensemble has developed a special interest in presenting contemporary music for young audiences. There is an openness for new or quirky ideas in concert music presentation. John Cage’s classic work Living Room Music forms the basis of this concert: the music calls for performers to use their own ‘found’ household objects in the performance of the piece, bringing in humorous and theatrical aspects to performances of this work. Children are invited to bring their own household objects to this concert and they will learn how to incorporate these sounds into the piece. Families are welcome, the more the merrier!

  • For children up to 10 years old,
  • duration ca. 40 minutes.

NEW from November 2018!
Fairy Tales.. Reloaded – music theatre for children 5 years+

In his masterpiece Ma mère l’oye (Mother Goose Suite), Maurice Ravel brilliantly paints scenes from various classic fairytales: Beauty and the Beast, Tom Thumb and Sleeping Beauty are all Photo: Martin Keil – Fiona Farbe, June 2015 Photo: Dominick Lack – Living Room Music, May 2017 wonderfully described in his music. With their new arrangement of the piece for piano quartet, Flex Ensemble has developed a new music theater production for young audiences that brings them along on a very special musical fairy tale journey. Elements of the various fairy tales weave in and out of each other with the musicians doubling as actors in an interactive presentation that also features video images created by Yoann Trellu for this highly unique production.

(45 min)