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Mozart's fourth violin concerto and Brahms' second symphony are the highlights of this evening's concert.
Haydn's Symphony No. 104 in D major is the composer's final symphony, the last of the twelve so-called London Symphonies, and is known particularly as the London Symphony. It was composed by Haydn while he was living in the city in 1795, and premiered at the King’s Theatre on 4 May in a concert he conducted of his own compositions. The premiere was a great success; Haydn wrote, 'The whole company was thoroughly pleased and so was I. I made 4000 gulden on this evening: such a thing is possible only in England.'
The Ballade No. 1 in G minor was composed in 1831 during Chopin's early years in Vienna. It was a reflection about his loneliness in the city far away from home, where a war was happening against the Russian Empire. Robert Schumann said of it, "I received a new Ballade from Chopin. It seems to be a work closest to his genius (although not the most ingenious) and I told him that I like it best of all his compositions. After quite a lengthy silence he replied with emphasis, 'I am happy to hear this since I too like it most and hold it dearest.'"
Mozart began playing violin at the age of 6 and wrote four of his five concertos between April and December 1775, at the age of 19. All of them demonstrate his mastery and understanding of the instrument. In this fourth concerto, the performer is tested by the very first notes of the solo, played high up on the E string. The exposed melodic line allows no margin for errors of intonation or color. Throughout the work, Mozart’s writing calls for purity and superb artistry.
After working off-and-on for some 20 years to produce what eventually became his First Symphony in 1876, Brahms was so heartened by the huge success of that work that he was able to compose his Second very quickly and almost effortlessly the following year. The symphony seemed to just pour out of him. It is the one symphony regarded as his 'pastoral', and it is the most effortlessly endearing of the four.
Joseph Haydn: Symphony No.104 in D major (‘London’)
Richard Hickox conducts Collegium Musicum 90
Frederic Chopin: Ballade No.1 in G minor
Piano: Murray Perahia
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Violin Concerto No.4 in D major
Violin: Maxim Vengerov
Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra
Johannes Brahms: Symphony No.2 in D major
Semyon Bychkov conducts the WDR Symphony Orchestra