Programme Guide

In this concert, farewell works by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss meet Hans Pfitzner’s most famous work. The programme is completed by a piece that bridges the gap between the Baroque and the modern era: Arnold Schoenberg’s orchestral version of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Major, premiered in 1929 by the Berliner Philharmoniker and Wilhelm Furtwängler.

All the works in the concert are characterised by a retrospective character: in contrast to the chromaticism of Tristan, Wagner and Pfitzner draw on seemingly archaic harmonies in their stage works Parsifal and Palestrina. Wagner’s so-called “Bühnenweihfestspiel” (Festival Play for the Consecration of the Stage) is inspired by the medieval Grail legend and combines this with Christian principles such as virtue and compassion.

At the heart of his best-known opera, Pfitzner placed the Renaissance composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, who had to defend his artistic freedom against the power of the Catholic Church. The programmatically entitled Four Last Songsby Richard Strauss represent an intimate and melancholic retrospective. They are a late work by the composer, who here once again combines the voice with an orchestral sound that shines in glorious colours in settings of Hesse and Eichendorff.

Soprano Camilla Nylund, who has already performed several times with the Philharmoniker, has a close artistic partnership with Christian Thielemann. She has enjoyed great success under his direction in Lohengrin at Bayreuth.

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