Programme Guide

It is actually astonishing that Brahms’s Violin Concerto is considered one of the most popular, for the composer here forgoes all virtuosic display with which his contemporaries such as Paganini and Sarasate guaranteed the success of their works. In the Brahms concerto there is not even a play on the tension between soloist and orchestra; the effect is rather one of mutual support for each other.

This powerful cooperation can be appreciated in this concert with Frank Peter Zimmermann and the Berliner Philharmoniker under the direction of Bernard Haitink. The Tagesspiegel described the performance as “sensational”: “Zimmermann works together with the sections of the orchestra, his phrasing is clear and intelligent, he forgoes self-indulgence, and develops a warm and intensive timbre with a shellac-like sheen.”

The Hungarian flavour that permeates the last movement of the Brahms concerto is reflected in the two other works of the evening, but they are of genuine Magyar origin. The concert opens with György Kurtág’s Stéle for large orchestra, written in 1993 during Kurtág’s time as Composer in Residence with the Philharmoniker, and ends with Bartók’s sharply contoured Concerto for Orchestra.

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