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Dvorak's New World Symphony forms the centre piece of tonight's Full Works Concert.
Wagner's overture to Tannhauser is the opera's most famous section: the shimmering, dramatic chords give way to a series of thrilling and expansive themes, which very much set the scene for the action that follows. The woodwind convey chanting pilgrims (listen out for the sombre sound of the clarinets and bassoons), while the aching and arching string lines allude to sexual temptation and lust. In just under 15 minutes, Wagner certainly manages to cover a lot of ground!
It was long believed that Mozart wrote all five of his violin concertos in 1775. However, it's now thought by some that the first concerto was composed two years earlier. Mozart was 17 at the time and just beginning to find his own voice as a composer. He clearly wanted violinists and audiences to take him seriously and this first concerto for the violin is full of charm, wit, and energy.
The subtitle of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 is important: it’s not ‘To the New World’; it’s ‘From’. This is very much a symphony that looks back, from the USA, to Dvořák’s native Bohemia. It is almost as if he were stood atop the Statue of Liberty herself, hand over his forehead to shield the sun, desperately looking to see if he can make out his faraway homeland. When he premiered this work in Carnegie Hall in 1893, critics disagreed over whether it was an all-American symphony (as he’d promised) or just more of Dvořák’s usual fare. What is certain is that it has lived on its myriad merits ever since, remaining one of the most popular symphonies of all.
In the 18th century, the most famous and influential member of the Bach family was not J.S. the father but rather, C.P.E. - the second son. He was keyboard player to Frederick the Great in Berlin for nearly 30 years. Later, he moved to Hamburg, where he served as music director for five churches. A prolific composer, C.P.E. Bach wrote close to 900 works. As a court musician to a flute-playing monarch, he composed a great deal of chamber music. Tonight we hear his Flute Concerto in B flat major.
Richard Wagner: Tannhauser – Overture
Daniel Barenboim conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Violin Concerto No.1 in B flat major
Violin: Anne-Sophie Mutter
Neville Marriner conducts the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Antonin Dvořák: Symphony No.9 in E minor (‘From the New World’)
Vladimir Ashkenazy conducts the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Anon: Danny Boy
Bass-baritone: Bryn Terfel
Barry Wordsworth conducts the London Symphony Orchestra
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Flute Concerto in B flat major H.435
Flute: Patrick Gallois
Kevin Mallon conducts Toronto Camerata