Joseph Haydn’s C minor symphony (No. 95), composed in 1791, is in many ways strikingly different from the other London Symphonies. It is the only one in a minor key, in addition to which Haydn dispensed with the slow introduction: right from the first tutti beat, the listeners are “in medias res”. What is also remarkable is the final rondo in which the lyrical tone is evidence of an engagement with Mozart’s late symphonies.
A revealing debate with tradition is also manifest in Jörg Widmann’s creative work. The composer says: “I don’t consider what is new a self-contained quality.” The performance of Widmann’s concerto Flûte en suite for flute and orchestral groups will feature Philharmonic principal flautist Emmanuel Pahud, who, after the work’s premiere in Cleveland in 2011, will be the first to perform the work in Europe. According to the composer, the work is “an arrangement of small sections like a suite, a collection of different dance forms. Almost each individual movement juxtaposes the solo flute with just one specific timbre, one instrumental group from the orchestra.”
After the interval the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle will dedicate themselves to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, a work that – with its hymn-like sounds and ecstatic rhythms – was celebrated as the “crown of the more recent instrumental music” by the Leipzig Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung after its premiere on 8 December 1813. The stirring piece, which advanced to become an audience favourite within a very short time, the reviewer continued, is the “most tuneful, pleasing and comprehensive of all Beethoven symphonies”. More than a century later, Theodor W. Adorno even called it “the symphony par excellence”.