The Full Works Concert - Wednesday 16 October 2013
Dvorak's Serenade for Strings provides the climax of tonight's concert which also features works by Tchaikovsky and Haydn.
The thunderously triumphant opening chords of Tchaikovsky's mighty first piano concerto are among the most famous in all classical music. At the time of composition, though, they were by no means universally loved. When Tchaikovsky played them to the pianist Nicolai Rubinstein, he declared it to be 'bad, trivial and vulgar!' All three movements of this deeply expressive concerto are sublimely romantic. The expansive, sweeping opening movement is showy; the middle movement, meanwhile, contains soulful melodies with some beautiful interplay between the soloist and orchestra; and the edge-of-your-seat finale is an electrifying thrill from start to finish. Some 80 years after Tchaikovsky sketched out his initial ideas for his Piano Concerto No. 1, it became the first piece of classical music to sell a million records when, in 1958, the pianist Van Cliburn wowed the world with his impassioned recording of the piece.
Haydn's Symphony No. 100 in G major - the eighth of the 12 so-called London Symphonies - got its nickname "Military" derives from the second movement, which features prominent fanfares written for trumpets and percussion effects. One reviewer wrote after the premiere that the second movement evoked the 'hellish roar of war increas[ing] to a climax of horrid sublimity!'
The least known work on tonight's programme is the Cello Concerto No. 2 in B flat major by John Garth (1721-1810). Garth played the cello and organ, composed, taught and organised concerts. His six cello concertos were all written as a vehicle for him to demonstrate his abilities as a cellist and were quite a novelty - concertos for solo instruments were quite rare in England at this time.
Tonight's concert concludes with Antonin Dvorak's popular Serenade for Strings, composed in just two weeks in May 1875. It's believed that Dvořák took up this small orchestral genre because it was less demanding than the symphony, but allowed for the provision of pleasure and entertainment. One critic wrote, 'The Serenade was aptly entitled, since at least four of its five movements (the second of which was a delightful waltz) displayed an elegant touch suggestive of gracious living accompanied by ‘serenading’ in the stately home of some 18th-century aristocrat…'
Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No.1 in B flat minor
Piano: Yevgeny Kissin
Herbert von Karajan conducts the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Joseph Haydn: Symphony No.100 in G major, ‘Military’
Charles Mackerras conducts the Orchestra of St. Luke’s
John Garth: Cello Concerto No.2 in B flat major
Cello: Alexander Baillie
Dmitri Demetriades conducts the European Union Chamber Orchestra
Antonin Dvorak: Serenade for Strings
Seiji Ozawa conducts the Saito Kinen Orchestra