For a new production of the biblical operetta La Corte de Faraón, someone came up with the idea of putting together a conductor who “liked Schönberg” with a stage director known for his experimental theatre in Paris. I accepted the offer provided that at a later date and as a counterpart to the delightful, mocking nature of the operetta, there would be a performance of a symphonic concert with the Bible as reference. For the latter concert, the representation of chaos from Haydn’s Creation (Die Schöpfung) would lead to Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, his biblical cantata Babel and a composition by Mauricio Sotelo specially commissioned for the concert: Lecturas del Libro de Job, for speaker, flute and string orchestra.

There was no question about the success of Sotelo’s score; his premiere was the best of the evening. I vividly remember its groundwork, the never-ending discussions regarding the music and text and finally its release: Roberto Fabbriciani masterfully weaving the multiphonics of his solo while Jose Luis Pellicena enunciated the words of the text by echoing each of the letters as if they were the very bricks of universal creation. Mauricio Sotelo’s music complemented, accompanied and contradicted all that order by developing another complexity, which made all worlds beyond vanish.

Mirroring what happened with the Mozart Gala, I was troubled by the doubt as to whether the concert could live up to what looked good on paper. After the performance, I was left with the feeling that the introduction with Haydn’s Creation was not a real introduction to what was coming next. A review of the concert confirmed it. This time, unlike on the previous occasion, the difficult dialectic between concert and programme had not been overcome. The programme notes, however, written by Alejandro Gándara, brilliantly connected the four sections to the four parts of the programme: Creation, Job, Psalms, and Babel; for me the most illuminating text that I have ever read in a concert handbill. At least we had something: a world premiere and an excellent text for the hand programme.


Conductor: Pedro Alcalde
Orchestra: Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid (ORCAM)
Chorus: Coro del Teatro de la Zarzuela
Narrators: José Luis Pellicena (Lecturas del Libro de Job) / Emilio Sagi (Babel)
Flute: Roberto Fabbriciani
Violin: Víctor Arriola
Chorus director: Antonio Fauró

Venue: Teatro de la Zarzuela Madrid
Date: 8th June 1999


Joseph Haydn: The Creation – Introduction: The Representation of Chaos
Mauricio Sotelo: Lecturas del Libro de Job – World Premiere
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Igor Stravinsky: Babel / Symphony of Psalms