Liszt: Orpheus; Ligeti: Violin Concerto; Bartok: Suite from The Wooden Prince

Renaud Capuçon; Berliner Philharmoniker/David Robertson

Philharmonie, Berlin, 9 May 2010

The first work on the programme was Liszt’s Orpheus. It was in Weimar, under contract as court Kapellmeister, that Liszt embarked on the composition of a new genre of orchestral music, the symphonic poem. This genre was to give full embodiment to the breadth of the composer’s aims, philosophical and poetic as well as music. But what at the time must have been vanguard has since settled comfortably into the category of easy-listening as far as classical music is concerned.

Appropriately enough the work opens with two harps acting as mimesis of the Greek poet’s lyre. Themes follow each other unevenly, signalling an extension of the sonata form towards something purely evocative, a searching by way of music for something only music can search for. As a concert-opener it’s perfect, not too long or demanding, lush on the ears. And here it was brought off well, Robertson measuring the work well in gradually bringing us to the crescendo at the work’s end.

This was followed by Ligeti’s Violin Concerto. A couple of years ago I saw this work performed by the London Sinfonietta along with its dedicatee and original soloist, Saschko Gawriloff. It was excellent then, but this performance by the Philharmoniker with the young Renaud Capuçon was if anything even better.

Read the full review in on musicalcriticism.com here.

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