Psappha: Lyric Suite at St Michael’s

Johnny James, Managing Editor
Chris Payne

Psappha: Lyric Suite at St Michael's, Ancoats 26 September 2019 Tickets from £5 — Book now

Performed across Manchester by some of the North West’s best musicians, Psappha’s 2019-20 programme is a thrilling one. It ranges from cutting edge contemporary classical music to radical works from the 20th Century’s leading visionaries. Falling into the latter category, Anton Webern and Alban Berg lie at the heart of this exciting concert at St Michael’s, which also features three world premieres.

One of Anton Webern’s earliest works, Langsamer Satz (1905) is a little masterpiece. Its impetus was a moment of unclouded joy, experienced by the composer whilst hiking through the Austrian forest with his future wife. Deeply romantic, this string quartet takes its listener on an emotionally-charged journey, from yearning to turmoil to tranquility. It will make a wonderful opener in the hands of Psappha’s excellent musicians.

Bookended by the dizzying musical and cultural revolution of turn-of-the-century Vienna, and featuring three exciting world premieres from contemporary composers, this Psappha concert is set to thrill.

At the other end of the concert, we have another string quartet from turn-of-the-century Vienna. Radically different from Webern’s work, Alban Berg’s Lyric Suite (1926) is intense, modernist and utterly thrilling. Blending technical skill with rich expression, it’s one of Berg’s first works to employ his former teacher Arnold Schoenberg’s 12-tone technique. Revealing the composer’s tortured inner world, this passionate, tragic and terrifying piece will provide a gripping finale.

In between these 20th Century works, Psappha will present four new pieces by contemporary composers, including three world premieres. We look forward to the latest output from Scottish composer George Stevenson, who is the recipient of the 2019/20 Peter Maxwell Davies Commission. We also eagerly await Charlotte Bray’s Upflight of Butterflies, which will take us on an evocative journey into nature. And lastly, created for Psappha’s Composing For scheme, we’ll be treated to new works by young composers Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade and Nina Danon.

Bookended by the dizzying musical and cultural revolution of turn-of-the-century Vienna, and featuring three exciting world premieres from contemporary composers, this Psappha concert is set to thrill.

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