Programme Guide

Since the end of the Second World War, the Berliner Philharmoniker have performed Max Reger’s monumental piano concerto only twice – in 1966 with Rudolf Serkin, and 30 years later with his son Peter. The work perfectly mediates in time and style between Johannes Brahms, to whose First Piano Concerto Reger explicitly referred, and Arnold Schoenberg – who in turn greatly admired Reger. The infrequency of the performances is also due to the unusually high technical and dramaturgical demands of the composition, which captivates with an almost furious expressiveness, but also with passages of lyrical intimacy. Canadian Marc-André Hamelin loves such challenges. He not only has a command of the entire core piano repertoire, but also explores unknown or forgotten works.

“Just as Italy has its Naples, the Frenchman his Revolution, the Englishman his sea-faring, etc., the German has his Beethoven symphonies,” Robert Schumann once wrote. It is clear that the representative genre of instrumental music had an almost cultural-political significance for the composer. Among Schumann’s four symphonies, the Rhenish, conducted in this concert by Marek Janowski, epitomises the representative type best. This is evident in the opening theme as well as in the optimistic finale. With the reverently sombre fourth movement, Schumann has also added one of his typical mysteries to the work.

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