Richard Wagner was one of the most divisive personalities of his era. This concert by the Budapest Festival Orchestra places alongside the German composer's preludes works by Gustav Mahler, who regarded him as a musical role model, and Hugo Wolf, a straight-out fanatical Wagnerite. After Schubert, Wolf was in all certainty the greatest master of the Romantic lied, of which he wrote more than 200. Performing seven of them set to poems by Eduard Mörike and Goethe will be Elisabeth Kulman. Mahler's symphony closing the concert is surprisingly cheerful and humorous.
Relatively few excerpts from Wagner's operas are suitable as stand-alone concert pieces, but the two preludes from his work relating the tale of the mysterious Grail knight are exceptions. The music opening the opera presents a vision of the Holy Grail appearing in heaven, accompanied by a host of angels and the glittering, veil-like drone of violins. The quite lively prelude to the third act depicts the preparations for the wedding of the two protagonists, Elza and Lohengrin.
While writin...g nearly one hundred art songs over a nine-month period in 1888, Wolf crafted, with unprecedented precision, a relationship between music and verse that cuts through to the level of each word. The lieder written to the poetry of Mörike thrillingly reflect the duality of the poet's work, both the tempestuous passions and the need, dictated by his career as a pastor, to suppress them.
Mahler's Seventh Symphony is a resting point between the 'Tragic' symphony and the 'Symphony of a Thousand'. The opening marching melody of the first movement is played by the tenor horn. The second movement, inspired by Rembrandt's painting The Night Watch, is followed by a scherzo that is to be played in a 'shadowy' fashion. Then, after a serenade accompanied by mandolin and guitar, the work is closed in a state of ecstasy supplied by the drums in the leading role.
Presented by: Budapest Festival Orchestra
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