International Spring Orchestra Festival
Artistic Director - Karl Fiorini
15th edition - Valletta 6-10 April 2021
Viktor Ullmann's one-act opera Der Kaiser von Atlantis oder die Tod-Verweigerung - The Emperor of Atlantis or Death's Refusal – opens this year's Festival, conducted by Raoul Lay, with Clare Ghigo, Ken Scicluna, Charles Vincenti, Charles Buttigieg, Louis Andrew Cassar, and Ensemble Télémaque. Ullmann and the poet Petr Kien, both of whom died in Auschwitz in 1944, wrote this opera, premiered in 1975, while interned in Theresienstadt. “An elusive death-welcoming parable about a mad, murderous ruler, possibly redeemed at last, who says farewell to the world in a mock-Faustian vision of a natural paradise no longer spoiled by men”.
Making a welcome return visit to Valletta the Somogyi String Quartet from Budapest programme Leo Weiner's 1938 Third Quartet, Albert Pace's award-winning Second Quartet, a Beethoven tribute, and premiere Sebastian Themessl's Fourth Quartet, an ISOF commission inspired by Tennyson.
The first of two chamber concerts features French violinist Annabelle Berthomé-Reynolds and Georgian pianist Luka Okros playing Stravinsky's Suite Italienne and sonatas by Ukrainian-Israeli composer Valentin Bibik and Polish composer-violinist Grażyna Bacewicz, an acclaimed album of whose music Anabelle released recently. In the second the established French duo of cellist Sébastien Hurtaud and pianist Paméla Hurtado include landmark works by Mendelssohn and Bartók as well as music by Milhaud, Prokofiev and Lutoslawski.
This year's celebrity piano recital is given by Ukrainian-born, Russian-trained Dinara Klinton. Her virtuoso Russian programme includes Stravinsky's Firebird Suite and sonatas by Prokofiev, whose complete cycle she has recorded for the Dutch label Piano Classics.
Closing the Festival, Italian Dimitri Scarlato returns to conduct a bold programme planned around Schoenber's Suite in the old style, Hindemith's 1936 Trauermusik, and Stravinsky neo-classical Apollon Musagéte.