Whenever Ozawa – who was head of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1973 to 2002 and music director of the Vienna State Opera from 2002 to 2010 – took to the podium of the Berliner Philharmoniker, and he did often and regularly, he would assemble a Classical-Romantic programme often seasoned with a pinch of Modernism. In his last concerts with the orchestra in May 2009, he conducted Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah, whose Romantic reading impressed audiences and critics alike. In preparation for the performances, the Japanese revealed what he loved about the Berliner Philharmoniker in an interview for the Digital Concert Hall: “Each member plays like a chamber musician. This is very important. I think that is what makes the tradition of the orchestra.”
This concert from April 2016 was dedicated to the First Viennese School: Mozart’s Gran Partita is followed by Ludwig van Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and his Choral Fantasy. The latter is an unusual piece which at that time had no precedent. It unites a variety of musical forms: Piano fantasy, symphony, concerto, string quartet, choral work, improvisation, variation, march, song, hymn – and last but not least, it is also a preliminary study for the Ninth Symphony.