Piano Concerto No.23 in A major (1) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Three mighty classical works make up tonight's concert - from Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart.
Tonight's concert opens with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. It's a piece that Mozart never published in his lifetime. His widow, Constanze, later sold it in a job lot of his music to a publisher in 1799, to raise funds.
The masterful Emperor Concerto by Beethoven is proof of the tenderness and beauty that runs like a thread through his music. At the time of writing it, the composer was very much straddling the Classical and Romantic periods and it's almost as if a new kind of music is being born. Apparently, the work’s nickname derived not from Beethoven but from a comment made by one of Napoleon’s officers, who was stationed in Vienna at the time. It was ‘an emperor of a concerto’, the man supposedly exclaimed. Indeed it was. And the name has stuck ever since. It's played tonight by the brilliant Mitsuko Uchida (pictured).
Brahms - following in Beethoven's footsteps - struggled deeply when it came to composing a symphony. It took him nearly 15 years to compose his Symphony No.1, with frequent revisions made to the score over that period. Even at its premiere, he remained sceptical about whether anyone would like it. But this great composer had nothing to fear. Hans von Bülow (himself a composer, conductor and pianist, just like Brahms) famously described this work as ‘Beethoven’s Tenth’ and no greater compliment could have possibly been paid. At the age of 43, Brahms had finally produced a symphony that both he and his public were happy with. Thankfully, they didn’t have to wait nearly as long for the arrival of another: he wrote the second the following year.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat major (‘Emperor’)
Piano: Mitsuko Uchida
Kurt Sanderling conducts the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Johannes Brahms: Symphony No.1 in C minor
Christoph von Dohnanyi conducts the Cleveland Orchestra