Two more publishers, Faber Music and Universal Edition, have just submitted their most performed works of the century’s first decade, and you won’t believe what they are.
UE, the benchmark label of modernism, has lost many of its big names – Boulez, Berio, Birtwistle, Stockhausen – to silence, mortality or other labels. The company is, as they say, under reconstruction. Only four names appear in its top ten below.
Its biggest performer over the decade was Arvo Pärt’s Lamentate (2002), a homage for piano and orchestra to Anish Kapoor and his sculpture ‘Marsyas’. The work has achieved 44 performances, which is highly respectable but would not get it into the top ten of other major publishers. UE needs to find some big-hitters.
Here’s the list from Vienna:
1. Pärt, Arvo (*1935): Lamentate (2002) – 44 performances
2. Haas, Georg Friedrich (*1953): tria ex uno (2001) – 40 performances
for flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin and violoncello
3. Pärt, Arvo (*1935): Which Was the Son of … (2000) – 32 performances
for mixed choir a cappella
4. Pärt, Arvo (*1935): Cecilia, vergine romana (2000) – 30 performances
for mixed choir and orchestra
5. Haas, Georg Friedrich (*1953): in vain (2000) – 29 performances
for 24 instruments
6. Pärt, Arvo (*1935): Symphony No. 4 ‘Los Angeles’ (2008) – 28 performances
for string orchestra, harp, timpani and percussion
7. Rihm, Wolfgang (*1952): Das Lesen der Schrift (2001) – 28 performances
8. Rihm, Wolfgang (*1952): Das Gehege (2004) – 28 performances
for soprano and orchestra
9. Rihm, Wolfgang (*1952): Grave (2005) – 27 performances
in memoriam Thomas Kakuska for string quartet
10. Staud, Johannes Maria (*1974): Configurations/Reflet (2002) – 27 performances
for 8 instrumentalists
In at number eight is Thomas Adès with a piano quintet (2000) – 49 performances.
It’s Adès again at 7 with Court Studies (2005) for clarinet, violin, cello and piano – 51 plays.
At 6 it’s Australian Carl Vine with Smith’s Alchemy for string orchestra – 53 hearings.
Into the top half of the draw with George Benjamin Three Miniatures for solo violin (2001) – 60.
At number 4, Oliver Knussen’s violin concerto (2002) – 79.
George Benjamin leapfrogs Ollie at 3 with Dance Figures for Orchestra (2004) – 82.
The runner-up at Faber is the vastly accomplished Colin Matthews who, in the year 2000, added a Pluto movement to Gustav Holst’s eternal Planets. It has been played 87 times and came out on record.
But the winner, the number one performer at Faber, is a composer one would not have linked to the Britten tradition. He’s a television performer, a populist, a resident at Classic FM – the most played Faber score is Howard Goodall’s Requiem (2008), with 102 performances.
Now, I’m going off to digest these figures with a sandwich before collating them with the ones already received. A trend is starting to emerge and the order of precedence in contemporary music is not what we’d imagined it to be.