Holderlin Fragments

‘It is (Alston’s) new choreography that dazzles... It's ingenuity and detail are as good as anything seen in the past decade’ Sarah Frater, The Stage

Choreography: Richard Alston
Music: Benjamin Britten Sechs Holderlin Fragmente
Music by arrangement with Boosey & Hawkes
Lighting: Charles Balfour
Costumes: Fotini Dimou

Sechs Holderlin Fragmente is one of the lesser known of Britten’s song-cycles. The words are indeed fragments from the visionary, mentally troubled poet Friedrich Holderlin. They reflect an idealistic vision of a new Hellenism and clearly resonate with Britten’s own personal sense of innocence and beauty. The six songs are full of tempestuous energy, floating serenity and in the case of the third song (Socrates & Alcibiades) a breathtaking simplicity. I find them utterly beautiful.

The songs were a present from Britten to his good friend, Ludwig of Hesse. As it happens Ludwig’s wife was sister-in-law to Pytt Geddes, a quite remarkable woman who pioneered the teaching of T’ai Chi Chuan in Britain and who was one of my most important teachers. Pytt died in 2006 and I’ve always wanted to make a dance in her memory. This is it.

Richard Alston

Holderlin Fragments received its world premiere as part of Barbican Britten: Phaedra at the Barbican Theatre on 6 November 2013.