Riccardo Chailly conducts Wagner and Liszt

29/11/2013

Berliner Philharmoniker
Riccardo Chailly

Herren des Rundfunkchors Berlin, Nikolai Schukoff

  • Richard Wagner
    Faust Overture in D minor (00:12:26)

  • Franz Liszt
    A Faust Symphony (01:19:00)

    Herren des Rundfunkchors Berlin, Simon Halsey Chorus Master, Nikolai Schukoff Tenor

He was not yet 27 years old when Riccardo Chailly was invited by Herbert von Karajan to make his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in January 1980 – conducting Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth. “I can still remember exactly”, says the music director of Leipzig’s Gewandhaus Orchestra, “how I was simply bowled over then by the sound of this orchestra, this power and warmth – it was unbelievable.” Immediately afterwards Chailly was asked to become the new principal conductor of RSO Berlin (now the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester). “That also offered the possibility of continuing to conduct the Philharmonic and of developing my connection with Karajan.”

In his November appearances in Berlin, Riccardo Chailly will begin the programme with Richard Wagner’s seldom performed Faust Overture. The main work is Franz Liszt’s Faust Symphony, whose first movement paraphrases a motif from the Wagner overture. The emotional music of the second movement (“Gretchen”) was praised by Liszt’s biographer Richard Pohl: “Even Liszt’s adversaries could not resist the spell of this Gretchen.” The ghostly third movement (“Mephistopheles”), in which the “Faust” themes are increasingly distorted and parodied, owes a debt to the finale of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique (the opening bars of both finales are almost identical). At the end, the tension subsides – with a choral finale in radiant C major in which Liszt sets the last lines of Goethe’s Faust II.