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Orchestral concert: Wagner, Widmann, Stravinsky

2021
January187:45 p.m.
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Program

Richard Wagner: Rienzi – Overture

Jörg Widmann: Violin Concerto No. 1

INTERVAL

Igor Stravinsky: The Firebird—ballet music

Other information

Season tickets

  • Solti A
  • Solti B

The event is about 2.5 hours long.

About the event

The concert features one polymath and key figure each from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries—such as Wagner, who also wrote the librettos for his operas, and two composer-conductor-performers, Stravinsky and Jörg Widmann. The solo part of Widmann’s concerto is played by the violinist of the premiere, Christian Tetzlaff, whose performance had been lauded by Bachtrack as authoritative due to his passion and relentless virtuosity. The conductor for the evening will be Robin Ticciati, who studied under Colin Davis and Simon Rattle. According to music critic Kristóf Csengery, “the British conductor demonstrates elegance in communicating with the orchestra, great choice of tempo, confidence in his phrasing and a great deal of sensitivity for sound quality”. He has the opportunity to showcase all this in The Firebird, in which Stravinsky lent unprecedented complexity to ballet music.Rienzi, der letzte der Tribunen, an opera in five acts, is Wagner’s last work under French or Italian influence. The plot of the opera, destined for the Paris Opéra, takes place in 14th-century Rome and treats the rivalry of the patrician families until the tragic siege of the Capitol. The source of the conflict is Rienzi, who promises to hold the nobility to account and help the plebeiansrise to power. At the beginning of the overture, a trumpet signal calls all characters to battle, and the melody of the opera’s best-known aria, Rienzi’s prayer, also features here. The work concludes with a battle hymn and military march.Widmann’s one-movement concerto composed in 2006 has the soloist playing nearly non-stop. Without breaking the conventions of the genre, the composer pushes the envelope in tone and tempo. The beginning of the concerto feels like the curtain rising as we join in the violin music already playing behind. It starts out at the bottom of the violin’s range, struggling again and again in vain to climb ever higher. The soloist, like an Orpheus guiding the listener through a desolate, terrifying underworld, concludes the piece at ethereal heights, soaring up from the depths after a multitude of contrasts.“Mark him well,” said Sergei Diaghilev, commissioner of the music to The Firebird, “he is a man on the eve of celebrity”. The piece was the first, but far from the last, in a series of collaborations. The music of the ballet, which was based on Russian folk tales, wowed Parisian audiences. The deep bass in the ominous introduction followed by the natural harmonics of the strings demonstrate the composer’s legendary orchestration skills. The story of Prince Ivan fighting with the aid of the Firebird the evil Kashchei, who turns knights into stone, is brought to life through fragments of folk songs, birdsong, twisted scherzos, magnificent lullabies and jubilant fanfares. This time not only the excerpts recycled as suites, but the full ballet music is performed.

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