Out of an entire evening's worth of incidental music, it is only the overture that gains popularity. A planned single-movement concert piece only finds success after two other movements are added. After a decade of thought behind it, a symphony only reaches its final form after being revised. The oeuvre of Robert Schumann is full of obstacles, hardships and struggles like these. This joint concert by Marek Janowski, one of the most knowledgable experts on conducting the German repertoire and a recurring guest at the helm of the BFO, and pianist Francesco Piemontesi, who combines "stunning technique with an intellectual capacity that few can match” features three pieces by Schumann.
It wasn't only music that Schumann was steeped in: he was also well versed in literature. This affinity resulted in numerous writings, some beautiful songs and Genoveva, the only opera of his career. In 1848, he commenced work on a second opera, this one based on Lord Byron's drama Manfred. He threw himself into his work with tremendous enthusiasm and - out of respect for the text - ended up with a musical dramatic poem, often with prose being read to orchestral accompaniment. Sometimes sa...d and restless, other times demonic and wild, this overture introducing the ascetic Manfred "in medias res" eclipses the other movements in terms of both quality and popularity.
In 1841, Schumann wrote a lyric fantasy for piano and orchestra. Success, however, was not forthcoming, so at the urging of his wife, Clara, four years later, he composed two more movements for the piece. Thus was born the Piano Concerto in A minor, a composition that received tremendous acclaim from its première. The beautiful musical dialogue of its opening movement, the extreme emotions of the intermezzo and the explosive energy of the virtuosic finale, launched into without a pause, have made the work one of the most popular of its type.
Schumann also found success in 1841. This is the year when he presented his first symphony, which was received so rapturously that he immediately started writing another. However, this next one was a failure at its initial performance. Schumann put it aside and only returned to it ten years later, when he had two more other symphonies under his belt, to revise it and release it as his Fourth Symphony. The four movements, played back-to-back without interruption, are built around a motto-like motif that pervades the entire work from the introduction to its slow opening movement through the beautiful oboe-cello dialogue of the Romanze, the rapid scherzo, and the majestically Beethovenian finale.
Presented by: Budapest Festival Orchestra
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