During August 2015 the WDR Big Band performed an impressive concert of large ensemble jazz crossed with African timbres and rhythms, at the Cologne Philharmonic. The guests also included Rhani Krija on percussion, Henry Dorina, electric bass, Woz Kaly, vocals and Jean-Philippe Rykiel, keyboard. The pieces were arranged and conducted by Michael Mossmann. The music is presented by Mokhtar Samba: it is about vibrant rhythms and hypnotising melodies. As Samba feels very close to the music of his ancestors, his pieces are naturally heavily influenced by the elementary power of African rhythms.
The world premieres of Iolanta and The Nutcracker took place on 18 December 1892 at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre. “The execution of both,” wrote the composer to his brother Anatoly the next day, “was magnificent, and that of the ballet perhaps too magnificent – its brilliance made one’s eyes tired.” Gustav Mahler conducted the first performance of the one-act opera outside Russia on 3 January 1893 in Hamburg and also directed the Viennese premiere of Iolanta on 22 March 1900.