Programme Guide

For regular concert goers to Berlin’s Philharmonie (and of course to the Digital Concert Hall) he was a well-known face for many years: Guy Braunstein, 1st concertmaster of the Berliner Philharmoniker from 2000 to 2013. He was regularly to be heard as the soloist in major orchestral works such as Richard Strauss’s Heldenleben or Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. For this concert, Braunstein was the soloist in Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1, conducted by Semyon Bychkov.

This concerto is one of the composer’s most concentrated works, with its strictness of form and restrained expression. Its particular flavour is won through its similarities to Jewish folk music, with its shifts between cheerfulness and anguish. Folkloristic influences are also to be found in the first piece of the evening, the Symphonies of Wind Instruments from Stravinsky’s “Russian phase”, which we also have to thank for the ballets Petrushka, The Firebird and The Rite of Spring.

Second comes Schoenberg’s tone poem Verklärte Nacht. The composer himself reported that, at the time of its first performance, it seemed to the audience “as if an orchestra playing Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde had got confused and their playing had fallen apart.” Today, on the other hand, the work is widely regarded as one of the most powerful masterpieces of the modern age.

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