Semyon Bychkov conducts Strauss and Schubert


Berliner Philharmoniker
Semyon Bychkov

  • Richard Strauss
    "Don Quixote" (00:49:36)

  • Franz Schubert
    Symphony No. 8 in C major Great C major (01:03:52)

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    Bruno Delepelaire and Máté Szücs in conversation with Sarah Willis (00:17:28)

The Russian conductor Semyon Bychkov, who replaces Lorin Maazel who had to cancel due to illness, was a fan of the Berliner Philharmoniker when he was still a teenager, and even spent a night in police custody after unsuccessfully attempting to smuggle himself into a sold out guest performance by the orchestra in St. Petersburg. Ever since he stood in at short notice for the indisposed Riccardo Muti in 1985 and – as the press noted – made a “conducting debut of considerable calibre,” he has been a regular guest of the Philharmoniker.

Philharmoniker audiences have heard Bychkov as an interpreter of the works of Richard Strauss on only one occasion, in 2008, when he conducted his Alpine Symphony. Now, another of the composer's tone poems is on the programme, Don Quixote. Strauss' work, inspired by Miguel de Cervantes' chivalric novel of the same name, impresses with its subtle musical characterization of the two main characters of Don Quixote and his servant Sancho Panza, and by its sound painting effects, such as the battle with the windmills and a stampeding herd of sheep. Strauss’s Don Quixote is represented by a solo cello, played here by Bruno Delepelaire, principal cellist with the Berliner Philharmoniker since 2013. Máté Szücs, principal violist with the orchestra since 2011, gives voice to Sancho Panza.

Franz Schubert is another composer whose works Semyon Bychkov has conducted only once in Philharmoniker concerts: his Second Symphony. He now conducts his “Great” C Major Symphony, which Robert Schumann described as the epitome of the Romantic symphony – because of its masterful composition, expressive melodies, finely tuned timbres and its “heavenly length.”