London concertgoers had better be in shape and ready to attend for the weekend of 19-21 June 2015, when the Continuum Ensemble will present five concerts and five talks in a span of a little over forty-eight hours at Kings Place. The “Swept Away” festival is dedicated to composers of the Weimar era in Germany and Austria, that all-too-brief period before the Nazi takeover of Germany that led to imprisonment, exile, or death for so many artists. The title of the festival refers to the fact that the exceedingly rich and varied culture developed in central Europe in the 1920s was contemptuously swept away by the Nazis.
The first four concerts feature an illustrious roster of composers: Paul Hindemith, Erwin Schulhoff, Ernst Toch, Kurt Weill, and Stefan Wolpe. The fifth and final program, a cabaret, will offer songs by ever-popular tunesmiths like Friedrich Holländer, Mischa Spoliansky, Weill, and others. The programs purvey an impressive mix of genres, as short operas, orchestral works, chamber music, and choral music will all be on offer. Friday evening starts the festival off with a bang with Hindemith’s Hin und Zurück, Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel and Vom Tod im Wald, and Toch’s Egon und Emilie. Like many other works programmed during the weekend, Egon und Emilie is receiving its U.K. premiere.
One of the U.K.’s leading contemporary music groups, the Continuum Ensemble is dedicated to performing new and neglected music from the 20th and 21st centuries. Artistic directors Philip Headlam and Douglas Finch will both be prominently featured throughout the festival, as conductor and pianist, respectively (Headlam will take a turn at the piano for the final concert). Prominent singers, instrumentalists, and scholars will appear throughout the festival. Opportunities to immerse oneself in such a vibrant musical culture do not come along every day, and we urge Londoners to take advantage.
Recording of Continuum Ensemble’s performance of Das Berliner Requiem (at the 1 hour, 15 minute mark)
Festival preview by Lawrence Weschler (The Guardian)
The Times (Geoff Brown)
The Telegraph (Ivan Hewett)
Financial Times (Hugo Shirley)