Monday, August 22, 2005
Musicians against nuclear weapons
In these days of globalisation and music-like-water it is a delight to write about leading soloists and musicians, including members of the Berlin Philharmonic, working together for a really important cause.
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) is a non-partisan international grouping of medical organisations dedicated to the abolition of nuclear weapons. They work with the long-term victims of nuclear explosions and accidents from Hiroshima to Chernobyl. Their work has been recognised with the 1984 UNESCO Peace Prize, and 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.
For the last 21 years IPPNW-Concerts has been working from its Berlin office with top musicians world-wide to raise funds for their work. As well as being a fantastic cause there is some music well worth exploring available on IPPNW-Concerts' own CD label, and in co-productions with Swedish label BIS. These are all live recordings of concerts promoted by IPPNW over the years.
There are forty-nine CDs in the catalogue with composers ranging from Monteverdi to Elliot Carter. The nuggets worth mining include Furtwängler's Te Deum coupled with Brahms and Hindemith (CD40). Wort und Musik - 60 Jahre nach Hiroshima couples the aria from Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Shostakovich's String Quartet No 8 and Schubert’s Quartettsatz with texts from an eclectic group of writers including Mohammed El Baradei, Till Bastian, Claus Biegert, Pierre Curie, Enrico Fermi, Albert Einstein, Robert Jungk, Sadako Kurihara, Robert Oppenheimer, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ernest Rutherford, Leo Szilard, Edward Teller. All IPPNW CD’s can be bought from their web site, and the service is fast. My purchase reached the UK in two days.
One of my personal favourites in IPPNW's catalogue is the Berlin Philharmonic Jazz Group (see above) playing live in 2004 in the Philharmonie in Berlin with the world-famous baritone Thomas Quasthoff. This recording was made at a concert for 'The Right Livelihood Award' which is the 'Alternatative' Nobel Prize. Quasthoff who is better known as a classical singer was the recipient of a Grammy Award in 2004. Appropriately the programme opens with Ed Harris’ Freedom Dance. The Berlin Philharmonic Jazz Group also played in the 2001 "IPPNW-Benefit Concert for the Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe" (available on CD 37). It is great to hear top orchestral musicians swinging. Other reader recommendations of jazz groups from the symphonic world are very welcome as comments on this post.
IPPNW co-productions with BIS also contain some real gems. My own favourite is a live Missa Solemnis from the Philharmonie in Berlin with Antal Doráti conducting the European Symphony Orchestra, University of Maryland Chorus, and a distinguished group of soloists. Can any readers post any more information on that concert, particularly the involvement of the US chorus? Also available exclusively from IPPNW is Doráti's posthumously published book "For inner and outer peace." The title of the book (which is dedicated to IPPNW) comes from the words inscribed in Beethoven's own hand in the score of the Missa Solemnis over the line in which the "dona nobis" motif first appears.
The wide-ranging work of AntalDoráti has been featured on an overgrown path recently. Another BIS co-production recorded at the Philharmonie with the New Berlin Chamber Orchestra and members of the Czech Philharmonic and HdK-Chamber Choir conducted by Martin Fischer-Dieskau includes two of Doráti’s own compositions (his Pater Noster, Prayer for Mixed Choir and Jesus oder Barabbas? a melodrama after a story by Karinthy Frigyes for Speaker, Orchestra and Choir) alongside works from Bartok and Martinu. Also on BIS are recordings of Doráti's 1st and 2nd Symphonies, although these are not part of the IPPNW project.
Finally among the BIS co-productions a live Mahler Symphony No 9 with Rudolf Barshai conducting the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra is a rarity well worth investigating.
All proceeds from the sale of these CDs benefit those in dire need as a result of war, industrial and natural catastrophe. Need I say more?
If you enjoyed this post take an overgrown path to Downfall - and the mystery of Karajan's personal photographer