Programme Guide

A local visitor: Daniel Barenboim, general music director of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin is the guest conductor of the Philharmoniker for this concert. The first piece of the programme is a discovery: Jörg Widmann’s symphonic hymnos Teufel Amor – a work that owes its title to a fragmentary surviving poem by Friedrich Schiller from 1782. In the line “Sweet Amor, / remain in melodic flight”, the text provides a musical reference which gave Widmann the inspiration for his half-hour-long orchestral work. The imagination of the composer was also fired by the contradiction in the title Teufel Amor, which led musically to a linking of strongly contrasting elements. And perhaps it is only the experience of the darkly timbred and “almost unbearably long introduction, in which the assembled violins of the orchestra are silent” (Widmann) that gives the later “beautiful places” of the unabatedly tonally composed music its beguiling effect.

After the interval, Daniel Barenboim turns to Piotr Tchaikovsky’s dramatic Sixth Symphony, the Pathétique, which also begins with an extremely sombre introduction. Tchaikovsky himself declared the symphony to be the “keystone of his whole creative works”; while composing it, he was repeatedly reduced to tears. The idea of the Pathétique as Tchaikovsky’s highly emotional legacy is still given credence by the fact that he died nine days after the premiere. Contemporaries report, however, that the composer worked on the piece no differently than on any other, and turned immediately after its completion to other projects. And in fact, it probably needs a minimum of serenity in order to create such a soulful, but also ingeniously constructed work in which there is, for example, a waltz in the complicated 5/4 time.

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