Beethoven and Mahler - two composers for whom nothing was impossible when it came to musical expression. With neither of them caring in the slightest about what was expected, they dared to innovate, always dreaming bigger and creating ever greater works. The Piano Concerto No. 4 demands a pianist in Beethoven's own mold, as this was the last concerto he composed for himself. However, one who is more like Liszt is just as suitable for playing the piece, one such as pianist Daniil Trifonov, who - still shy of his 30th birthday - has already been compared to Liszt by The Washington Post not only for his virtuosity, but also for his mesmerizing impact on the audience. The grandiose piece will be followed by another titan, Mahler's Symphony No. 1, an extensive palette of emotions first premièred in Budapest.
Although Beethoven entered the annals of music history as a deaf composer, he wrote part of his oeuvre while still enjoying impeccable hearing. It was mainly his career as a performer that was adversely affected when he began to lose his hearing in 1798, and he was forced to give up playing the piano in public altogether ten years later. His Vienna concert on 22 December 1808 was the last time he took the stage as a soloist in front of an orchestra. What he played then was his Piano Concer...to No. 4, which is full of improvisation-like sections. Instead of kicking off with an orchestral introduction, as was usual at the time, the piece - for the first time in the history of music - opens with the piano introducing the main theme. The second movement is a passionate and tense dialogue between two worlds; Beethoven's biographer Adolf Bernhard Marx felt that it was a musical representation of the Orpheus story. The finale resolves the often introspective piece with a joyous rondo.
Mahler started to work on his first symphony at the end of 1887, initially planning for it to take the form of a five-movement programmatic symphonic poem. "A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything," he wrote to Sibelius. This attitude is reflected in the various related motifs spanning the different movements, the self-references, the stylistic diversions and the varied instrumentation. After starting out with a surprisingly long and slow introduction, the symphony gradually moves from fragmented motifs to its main theme. Instead of the "Blumine”, which Mahler removed, leaving it to be performed ever since as an independent concert piece, the second movement was replaced with an energetic scherzo, followed by a unique slow movement including a children's song performed by double bass, klezmer music and a military march. The piece concludes with a passionate finale: initially tragic, it eventually grows triumphant.
Presented by: Budapest Festival Orchestra
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