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First Performance of Matthias Pintscher’s Complete Shirim Cycle

Feb. 01, 2020

First Performance of Matthias Pintscher’s Complete <em>Shirim</em> Cycle

Musica Viva presents the world premiere of Matthias Pintscher’s complete Shirim cycle on February 7 at the Herkulessaal in Munich, featuring baritone Georg Nigl and the Bavarian Radio Chorus and Orchestra under the composer’s baton. As the fourth part and conclusion of his Shirim cycle, Matthias Pintscher has set the third chapter of the Song of Solomon for baritone, chorus and orchestra. In this chapter, there is mention of splendor, the entrance of King Solomon himself, of the costliness of the treasures and robes, and the shimmering gold swords of his accompanying retinue: “King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon. He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple; the midst thereof being paved with precious stones. Go forth, O ye daughters of Jerusalem and behold ...”

The third chapter of the Shir-ha-shirim is characterized by its sense of contemplation. Matthias Pintscher says:

“It is largely a description of a situation. The plot has less action than in the other six parts of the Song of Solomon. Here I am interested in sensing a situation which has something very archaic about it: the blades of the swords, the metallic is defining, the description of the sounds, colors, smells.” 

Pintscher has composed the sections of the cycle over a period of ten years, beginning in 2008 with the fifth song in she-cholat ahava ani ("For I am sick of love") for unaccompanied mixed choir, followed in 2011 by the second song in Songs from Solomon’s Garden and in 2017 with the third part of Shirim, both for baritone and orchestra.

The poetry is characterized by its floating multiple voices, combining several narrators. This principle is carried to the greatest dimensions in Shirim IV. The dialogue form is extended into an exchange of three elements – baritone, chorus and orchestra. Matthias Pintscher notes:

“In the course of the work, the texture initially becomes denser, more concentrated and constantly simplifies until the gates open at the end. The keyword ‘splendor’ is very important. The whole cycle is characterized by a circling of very many elements which are extremely coherent in themselves – the harmonies, the orchestration, the gestures. Here in this movement the metallic repertoire above all is extended, something which had been prefigured in my piano concerto NUR.”    

Shirim will be paired with a new composition by Slovenian composer Nina Šenk, who completed her studies with Matthias Pintscher.

Listen to Matthis Pintscher's un despertar (2017) here:

(Matthias Pintscher/un despertar/Gürzenich-Orchester Köln/Alisa Weilerstein, cello/François-Xavier Roth, conductor)

To learn more about Matthias Pintscher, visit:

Matthias Pintscher
Shirim (2008-2019)
for baritone, chorus and orchestra