6 Pieces for orchestra op. 6b
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major »Emperor«
Rudolf Buchbinder Piano
Self-portraiture can boast a long tradition in painting. Artists have staged themselves as icons of their time, but also exposed their vulnerabilities in uncompromising openness. Minor characters who provide information about the character of the painter portrayed tend to be quite rare. This is not the case in music. “It is my wife whom I wished to portray,” said Richard Strauss about a passage in his tone poem Ein Heldenleben premiered in 1899: “She is very complicated, a little kinky, a little coquettish, never predictable, changing from minute to minute.” The composer also explained this section’s programmatic musical flow: “At the beginning the hero follows her, picks up the tone that she just sang; she keeps getting away. Finally he says: just go. I’m staying here! And he retires into his own thoughts, his own tone.” So the main figure in Strauss’s Heldenleben is the composer himself! This would never have occurred to Ludwig von Beethoven – a bachelor against his will who was stylized into an ingenious maverick – to set his life experiences to music so blatantly. His Fifth Piano Concerto, for example, composed in 1811, knows nothing of the composer’s personal disappointments, much less of the progressive loss of his hearing. The soloist at these three Berliner Philharmoniker concerts conducted by Zubin Mehta is the Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder, celebrated for his Beethoven interpretations. To begin these concerts, the orchestra and conductor will present Anton Webern’s Six Pieces for Orchestra in the instrumentally reduced, wonderfully transparent version of 1928.