For Gustavo Dudamel, the age of the Titan of the conductor’s podium is over: “I’m just part of the orchestra, only by working closely together can the magic of the music develop!” And yet it can not be overlooked that Dudamel holds a prominent position among musicians of our time – as a conductor who stands out not by an otherworldly authority over others but by an absolute devotion to the music and a unique ability to inspire orchestras and audiences with his energy. In this concert he demonstrates these qualities in, among other works, Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra.
Many musical stories are related in this concert. Firstly in Ravel’s Ma mere l’oye, a sequence of scenes from fairy tales full of elegance, poetry and wit. Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Violin Concerto is a work that initially follows abstract forms, with a noble, occasionally breakneck solo part. At a deeper level, however, you will also find fragments of illustrative music: quotations in fact from film music which Korngold composed after he emigrated to the United States in 1938 and which are still an inspiration for film composers. The soloist is Leonidas Kavakos, who the press celebrated at his most recent guest appearance in Berlin as the “Greek miracle violinist”, who has “perhaps the most beautiful tone that can be produced on the instrument”.
We remain to an extent in the realm of film with Also sprach Zarathustra, the piece which, as is well known, became a classical music world hit thanks to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. But it has almost been forgotten that the real basis of the piece was a philosophical work by Friedrich Nietzsche. This is not, however, depicted literally by Strauss, but Nietzsche’s free, life-affirming view defines the work’s musically powerful optimism.