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2014 Edinburgh International Festival - Opening Concert

Oliver Knussen conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Schoenberg: Five Orchestral Pieces. Scriabin: Prometheus: The Poem of Fire. Debussy: Le Martyre de Saint Sebastien.

A concert saturated with the obsessive, the mythic and the exotic - and marking Jonathan Mills' final year as artistic director of the Edinburgh International Festival.

Recorded 8th August at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Presented by Donald Mcleod

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra is conducted by Oliver Knussen in music by maverick composers whose exuberantly colourful works remain just as radical today. As with Schoenberg's 5 Orchestral Pieces which shocked the audience at their first performance at the Proms in 1912. They continue to amaze with their highly condensed design, rapidly shifting textures, and radical harmony.

The brilliant young pianist Kirill Gerstein joins the orchestra to tackle the gargantuan score of Scriabin's Prometheus: The Poem of Fire. As much a dazzling technical achievement as a sensual overload this piece - part concerto, part oratorio, part symphony - evokes the myth of Prometheus, stealing fire from the Gods and creating mankind.

And the concert concludes with a rare opportunity to hear the complete score of Debussy's incidental music to the play Le Martyre de Saint S├ębastien. Soprano Claire Booth and the Edinburgh Festival Chorus join the orchestra to perform the often pared-down but frequently mesmerizing music which originally accompanied Gabriele D'Annunzio's extravagant exploration of religious sacrifice and repressed desire.

Schoenberg: 5 Orchestral Pieces Op 16 (original version)
Scriabin: Prometheus: The Poem of Fire
Debussy: Le Martyre de Saint S├ębastien

Kirill Gerstein (piano)
Claire Booth (soprano)
Edinburgh Festival Chorus
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Oliver Knussen (conductor).

2 hours, 30 minutes

Music Played

  • Arnold Schoenberg

    Five Orchestral Pieces Op.

    Conductor: Oliver Knussen. Orchestra: Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
  • Alexander Scriabin

    Prometheus, The Poem Of Fire

    Performer: Kirill Gerstein. Orchestra: Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Conductor: Oliver Knussen.
  • Claude Debussy

    Le Martyre de St Sebastien - complete incidental music

    Performer: Kirill Gerstein. Performer: Claire Booth. Orchestra: Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Conductor: Oliver Knussen.
  • Post concert

    • Johann Sebastian Bach

      Brandenburg concerto no. 1 in F major BWV.1046

      Orchestra: Academy for Ancient Music Berlin.
    • Igor Stravinsky

      Concerto in D major (Basle concerto) for string orchestra

      Orchestra: Columbia Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Igor Stravinsky.

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