Thursday, 1 November 2012

Episode Two of Brahms and Szymanowski

After my visit to The Royal Opera House on the afternoon of Saturday 13th October 2012 I made my way to The Barbican for the second episode of the London Symphony Orchestra's Brahms and Szymanowski series of concerts. The LSO were conducted by Valery Gergiev as they played Tragic Overture - Brahms, Symphony No.2 -Szymanowski and Symphony No.2 - Brahms.

The Tragic Overture was composed by Brahms in 1880. Brahms chose the title Tragic to emphasise the turbulent, tormented character of the piece, in essence a free-standing symphonic movement, in contrast to the mirthful ebullience of a companion piece he wrote the same year, the Academic Festival Overture.

Szymanowski completed his Symphony No.2 in 1909. He was greatly influenced by German culture and the symphony has many echoes of Richard Strauss and Max Reger. This Symphony is a complex tapestry of threaded musical ideas that the composer claims to be one of his favourites.

Brahms composed his Symphony No.2 during the summer of 1877 during a visit to P├Ârtschach am W├Ârthersee, a town in the Austrian province of Carinthia. Its composition was brief in comparison with the fifteen years it took Brahms to complete his First Symphony. Brahms said that this symphony was so melancholy that you will not be able to bear it. I have never written anything so sad, and the score must come out in mourning.

This was another wonderful evening to be at The Barbican as Valery Gergiev and the LSO brought us more delightful music from Brahms and Szymanowski. This was a fabulous way to finish another brilliant day in London before catching the train back to Norwich.

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