Kirill Petrenko and Yuja Wang
Anatolij Konstantinovic Ljadow
The Enchanted Lake, op. 62
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 3 in C major, op. 26
Yuja Wang piano
Symphony No. 4 in C major
Anatoly Lyadov was a brilliant magician of timbre, who knew how to use the dazzling colour palette of the great Romantic symphony orchestra like few others. However, he was introverted, self-critical, unsociable – and bone idle. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov described Lyadov as the true Oblomov of Russian music, but because of his student’s aversion to work which bordered on levels only heard of in fairy tales, he threw him out of the Conservatory in 1876 due to “poor attendance”. However, he allowed him to return him two years later for the simple reason that “he’s simply too talented!” Lyadov undoubtedly knew his craft, as his iridescent Symphonic Poem The Enchanted Lake for one proves. Kirill Petrenko opens these Philharmoniker concerts with this approximately eight-minute “fable tableau” for orchestra, which the composer took almost two years (!) to complete.
The programme also includes the Fourth Symphony by Austrian composer Franz Schmidt, who was a cellist in the Vienna Court Opera orchestra during the Mahler era. He later recalled: “Mahler’s directorship hit the opera house like a force of nature: An earthquake of enormous strength and duration shook the building to its very foundations. Everything that was old, outdated or in bad condition was destroyed and was gone forever. Vienna then experienced one of the most dazzling musical periods that the city had ever experienced.” Schmidt wrote his symmetrically structured Fourth many years later – after the death of his only daughter: music full of a sense of farewell and grief-stricken love. It begins with a theme of resignation from a solo trumpet which Schmidt called the “last music taken into the hereafter, after one has been born under its auspices and has lived one’s life”. After a broad, passionato theme with which, in the words of the composer, “one’s whole life passes through the mind,” there follows a moving Adagio as a funeral march for his dead daughter. The Scherzo ends avowedly in “catastrophe”, while in the final recapitulation of the first movement, as Schmidt said, everything appears “more mature and transfigured” by all that has intervened.
Between the two works mentioned, Kirill Petrenko has programmed Sergei Prokofiev’s neoclassical Third Piano Concerto which (similar to Igor Stravinsky’s Pulcinella music) sounds like a modernised stylistic copy of an old master. The soloist is Yuja Wang, whose fingers at times steal over the piano keys at breathtaking speed. No wonder some people think she “must have more than two hands” (Die Zeit).
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