Martha Argerich and Riccardo Chailly have been linked with the Berliner Philharmoniker by long artistic friendships. For them to perform at the orchestra’s concerts jointly, however, is something of a rarity. Only twice, namely in 1983 and 1989, did Berlin audiences have the opportunity to experience the two of them on stage. On both occasions they performed Sergei Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto, in which they – as the press wrote – “made music in one spirit”. For this concert, they chose Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor. This work constitutes an alternative to the brilliant virtuoso concerti popular at the time. With it, the composer tried to bring about “something between a symphony, concerto and large sonata”. Thus he created something completely new for the time: a concerto in which piano and orchestra coalesce into one indivisible unity.
The evening begins with the overture that Felix Mendelssohn composed in 1839 for the Leipzig premiere of Victor Hugo’s play Ruy Blas. Though Mendelssohn found the play “abominable” and “disgraceful”, he created rousing music full of poetry. The third piece on the programme is Sergei Rachmaninov’s Third Symphony, considered the most radical and modern of his three symphonies. In earlier concerts with the Philharmoniker, the Italian Riccardo Chailly has time and again shown himself to be a specialist in the Russian repertoire. This is the first time he conducted one of Rachmaninov’s symphonic works with the Berliner Philharmoniker.