The Battalia for 10 players, by German baroque composer Heinrich Ignaz Biber, is an attempt to depict the noise and clamour of battle. In lively and humorous style, it includes instrumental effects represent musket shots and blows. There is also a lament for the wounded musketeers.
‘If you hold up a mirror to the world so that she acknowledges her hideous face,’ wrote Karl Amadeus Hartmann about his Concerto Funebre (Funereal Concerto), ‘she may eventually change for the better.’ With Nazi Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia burning in his mind as he composed, Hartmann allowed a string of repressed emotions to run through the piece. Tension and anger rise to the surface in harsh outbursts. The Funereal Concerto is loaded with ‘the intellectual and spiritual hopelessness of the period’.
George Crumb, who died in early 2022, was an innovator in terms of form, texture and subject matter. There’s no way of hiding that Black Angels is a raw, harsh and at times painful listen – but that’s what you would expect from a work inspired by the horrors of the Vietnam War. Subtitled 13 Images From the Dark Land, the music includes references to Schubert's Death and the Maiden and the Requiem’s Dies Irae. With instruments including tuned glasses, vocals and amplified strings, Crumb’s masterpiece approaches the mental horrors of war.