Programme Guide

Sergei Prokofiev scored his Violin Concerto in D major op. 19 during the time he was composing the Classical Symphony – avowedly “in the style of Haydn”. No wonder, then, that the nearly contemporaneous concerto, with its ethereally dreamlike beginning, also exhibits a “Classical” profile, but in the sense of a “staged return to Classical forms and expressive means, whose aspects of caricature and alienation derive microscopically from tiny displacements and inclinations of the harmonic structure” (German musicologist Detlef Gojowy). In the Berlin Philharmonie, the Berliner Philharmoniker’s 1st concertmaster Daishin Kashimoto explores Prokofiev’s anti-Romantic “inclinations”.

The programme also features two symphonies by an out-and-out Romantic: Robert Schumann. In creating the “Spring” Symphony op. 38, he “wrote with a vernal passion that always sways men even into old age and surprises them anew each year”. Following the piece’s brilliant premiere in Leipzig under Mendelssohn’s direction on 31 March 1841, Schumann soon produced a second symphony, the D minor. On account of its late publication in 1853 in revised form, it entered the catalogue of his works as No. 4, op. 120. The question of which version to prefer is still being thrashed out today. Sir Simon Rattle opts for the seldom-performed original of 1841, which was already favoured by Brahms for its more transparent textures.

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