Programme Guide

Richard Strauss’s Symphonia domestica, the premiere of which the composer conducted in New York in 1904, has a somewhat dubious reputation. Tremendous energy and full orchestral forces are in strange proportion to the programmatic subject matter of the symphonic poem. Strauss concentrates on his own family life. Nevertheless, the composer achieved an unusually entertaining, brilliantly orchestrated and virtuosically conceived work, for example, in the extended fugal passages. Zubin Mehta conducts it in this concert.

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto also ran contrary to the expectations of contemporary audiences, since the solo instrument opens the work in place of the usual orchestral introduction. In the second movement, the lyrical part-song of the piano is contrasted with an abrupt, monophonic orchestral motif, like an urgently imploring individual and an initially merciless, then finally conciliatory collective body. As the soloist, pianist Murray Perahia resumed his long-standing collaboration with the Berliner Philharmoniker with this performance after an absence of eleven years.

Along with Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Bernd Alois Zimmermann, during the 2008/09 season the orchestra also paid tribute to the American composer Elliott Carter on his 100th birthday, focussing on several of his compositions. During the time that remained until his death in 2011, Carter composed many outstanding works. He was “only” 97 when his Three Illusions was premiered in Boston in 2005. The transparent, precisely conceived 10-minute orchestral work demonstrates the composer’s vast literary knowledge: Carter’s Illusions were inspired by the legend of the Fountain of Youth as well as texts by Miguel de Cervantes and Thomas Moore.

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