Simon Rattle conducts Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony

20/04/2013

Berliner Philharmoniker
Sir Simon Rattle

Marie-Pierre Langlamet, Jonathan Kelly, Leonidas Kavakos

  • Witold Lutosławski
    Double Concerto for oboe, harp and string orchestra (00:22:08)

    Marie-Pierre Langlamet Harp, Jonathan Kelly Oboe

  • Henri Dutilleux
    L'Arbre des songes, Concerto for violin and orchestra (00:30:18)

    Leonidas Kavakos Violine

  • Ludwig van Beethoven
    Symphony No. 6 in F major “Pastorale” (00:51:14)

  • free

    Leonidas Kavakos on Dutilleux’s Violin Concerto (00:27:55)

Beethoven described his Sixth Symphony as “more an expression of feeling than painting” even though the “Pastoral” Symphony dates from before the time of a dogged distinction between absolute and programme music. Even more astonishing than Beethoven’s labelling this a musical day in the country is its genesis: he composed the “Pastoral” contemporaneously with his Fifth Symphony and presented both for the first time on 22 December 1808 – what a programme! – along with the Fourth Piano Concerto, parts of the C major Mass, and the Choral Fantasy.

Has any composer more forcefully demonstrated the breadth of his musical invention? To Beethoven it came naturally: he often worked simultaneously on two works in the same genre in order to exhaust its expressive potential. And so the “Pastoral” forms a counterpart to the Fifth: in major instead of minor, in five rather than four movements, inspired by a programme as opposed to absolute music.

The last-mentioned contrast is also exhibited in this concert’s first half: the Double Concerto for Oboe, Harp and Chamber Orchestra by Witold Lutosławski strikes one as absolute music when heard alongside Henri Dutilleux’s Violin Concerto, the title of which – L’Arbre des songes – is ripe for programmatic interpretation. Marie-Pierre Langlamet (harp) and Jonathan Kelly (oboe), both members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, are the soloists in the Lutosławski Double Concerto; the solo part in L’Arbre des songes (The Tree of Dreams) is taken by artist in residence Leonidas Kavakos.