What if we reconstruct Beethoven’s music from the perspective of the 21st century? The admiration of John Adams for the way in which Igor Stravinsky revisited 18th-century music to compose the ballet Pulcinella was the initial impetus for Absolute Jest, for string quartet and orchestra. Despite the two centuries that separate them, John Adams feels close to Beethoven: the use of ecstatic energy and the ability to make expressive musical structures from minimal materials is common to both composers. Adams uses fragments of Beethoven’s works to craft them into a whole new musical fabric. The scherzos of the Quartets op. 131 and 135, as well as fragments of the Ninth Symphony or the Waldstein Sonata offer up breathtaking music that bears the unmistakable stamp of John Adams.
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Beethoven’s String Quartet in F major, Op. 135 is the last large-scale work by the composer before his death. The second movement gives an exceptional insight into the composer’s musical universe.
Jean Sibelius composed his Symphony no. 5 to mark his fiftieth birthday. Despite the success of the first performance of the work, the author revised it several times before reaching its definitive form in 1919. The process of composition and revision was profoundly affected by the Russian Revolution and the complex political situation of the time, as well as by Finland’s declaration of independence. With a majestic and solemn technique, the symphony ranges over the imagery of Norse mythology.