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Mendelssohn, Bach, Haydn, Schumann and a lake full of swans from Tchaikovsky make up tonight's Concert.
Tonight's Concert opens with the zipping overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, written by Felix Mendelssohn when he was just 17 years old. The wunderkind was sure to include all sorts of special effects - ones that are completely in keeping with the original play. So, you'll hear the scuttling feet of fairies as they scamper about the stage, and even the braying of poor Bottom, who is turned into an ass.
It's thought that Bach wrote his Violin Concerto in A minor while he was director of the Collegium Musicum in Leipzig, but that doesn't mean he was a relentless academic. Give the second movement a listen in particular. That impossibly pretty solo violin line can't just be the sound of Bach giving himself a technical challenge - this is a glorious precursor to the soloist culture of the the classical period.
When Swan Lake was premiered in 1877, the reception it garnered was lukewarm at best. The dancers themselves gave Tchaikovsky a particularly hard time, declaring his music to be simply too difficult to dance to. Music of such richness and depth was not, they thought, the kind that should accompany their balletic moves. Today, the ballet is universally adored, from the graceful Waltz in Act I to the playful Dance of the Cygnets. Tchaikovsky evidently enjoyed composing the music for Swan Lake, writing far more material than would ever be required. Indeed, the version most commonly encountered today is, in fact, an edited one, created after Tchaikovsky’s death and considerably shorter than the original, full-length work. It’s now the world’s most frequently performed ballet.
Haydn 's Keyboard Concerto in G major is tonight played by Marc-Andre Hamelin. Unlike Mozart, Haydn never made a living as a keyboard soloist but this has an elaborate solo part through which the pianist delivers with grace and skill.
Schumann 's Symphony No. 3, known as the 'Rhenish' is the last of the composer's symphonies to be written, although not the last published. It was premièred in February 1851 in Düsseldorf, conducted by Schumann himself, was received with mixed reviews, 'ranging from praise without qualification to bewilderment'. However, members of the audience applauded between every movement, and especially at the end of the work when the orchestra joined them in congratulating Schumann by shouting 'hurrah!' Schumann was inspired to write this symphony after a trip to the Rhineland with his wife Clara . This journey was a happy and peaceful trip which felt to them as if they were on a pilgrimage. As a result of this trip, he incorporated elements of his journey and portrayed other experiences from his life in the music.
Felix Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream – Overture
Riccardo Chailly conducts the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Johann Sebastian Bach: Violin Concerto in A minor BWV.1041
Violin: Anne Akiko Meyers
Steven Mercurio conducts the English Chamber Orchestra
Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake - Suite
Mstislav Rostropovich conducts the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Joseph Haydn: Keyboard Concerto in G major Hob.XVIII:4
Piano: Marc-Andre Hamelin
Bernard Labadie conducts Les Violons du Roy
Robert Schumann: Symphony No.3 in E-flat major Opus 97 'Rhenish'
David Zinman conducts Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich