Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Preview: Aldeburgh Festival 2016

4:37, 21st January 2016

The 69th Aldeburgh Festival will take place 10-26 June.

The stand-out event of this year’s festival is Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s performance of Messiaen’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux over four concerts from sunrise to midnight at Snape Maltings and RSPB Minsmere.

The 150-minute piece for solo piano is the French composer’s largest work inspired by birds, depicting 77 species that Messiaen heard in the Camargue region of south-west France. The work will be performed against a backdrop of reedbeds and marshland, with a soundtrack of real birds.

Another highlight is Illuminations, a 75-minute devised staging for soprano, string orchestra and circus performers inspired by Britten’s settings of Rimbaud, directed by Struan Leslie. The performance will also feature Britten’s Young Apollo, Debussy’s string quartet and music from John Adams’ Shaker Loops.

Julian Anderson, Benedict Mason and Rebecca Saunders are the featured composers at this year’s festival. Anderson will give the annual Hesse Lecture, and all he and Mason will have new works performed.

Les Siècles will undertake an Aldeburgh Festival Residency, with four concerts between 10 and 15 June. The residency begins with musical depictions of the shepherd Daphnis; the second concert features Bach’s Magnificat and Reich’s Tehilim; the third will be a performance of Berg’s Chamber Concerto; and the residency will culminate in a programme of Debussy, Takemitsu, Cras and Kurtág.

Other highlights include John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir performing Bach’s St Matthew Passion; world premieres by Charlotte Bray, Gary Carpenter; a collaboration between Solomon’s Knot and Mira Calix; and a four-concert exploration of the music created during World War I.

The final weekend of the festival will be a celebration of the piano, with performances from Emanuel Ax, Lorenzo SoulèsTamara Stefanovich, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Håkon Austbø. Participants in the Grade 1 piano challenge will have the opportunity to make their Aldeburgh Festival debut in Snape Maltings Concert Hall on the last day of the event.

The festival will be Aimard’s seventh and last as artistic director. Reflecting on his time at Aldeburgh, he said: ‘One of the joys of this unique place – home of composers and inspiring nature – is the potential for renewal and endless creativity. I look forward to continuing my relationship with Aldeburgh Music for many years to come.’

General booking opens on 23 February.

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