With Zubin Mehta conducting the Wiener Philharmoniker, the season opening concert does full justice to the occasion. The Indian star conductor leads one of the world’s finest orchestras with a program to match.
The main work of the evening will be Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, where only the pros are permitted to vie with one another: oboes versus bassoons, flutes versus violins, and above all the brass with their jazz-influenced rhythms. The work was originally written for an American orchestra that played with a precision and gusto unequalled by any early 20th century ensemble. Still today, Bartók’s most popular work serves as a calling card for world-class ensembles. After we heard it with the Berliner Philharmoniker last season, this time around it is the Wiener Philharmoniker who will be demonstrating its prowess as one of the finest – and most virtuoso – ensembles in the world.
Before Bartók’s Concerto, we will be treated to two works whose history is closely intertwined with that of the Wiener Philharmoniker. Brahms’s Tragic Overture, which comes across as more serious than tragic, was premiered in Vienna in 1880. With its slow funeral march and scherzo-like passages, the composer seems to have packed a full symphony in a mere fifteen minutes of music.
Haydn’s works are at once duty and pleasure, and it’s no surprise that the Wiener Philharmoniker often performs music by the founder of Viennese Classicism, particularly the Sinfonia Concertante, scored for orchestra and four soloists (oboe, bassoon, violin, and cello), with musicians from the orchestra naturally filling the solo parts.
Photo: Marco Brescia, La Scala
Tragic Overture in D minor, op. 81
Sinfonia Concertante in B-flat major, op. 84
Concerto for Orchestra
- Zubin Mehta Conductor
- Wiener Philharmoniker
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