International tour – Antwerp
About the program
20th century music in a 19th century frame. How does the music of Schubert and Bartók reinforce and contrast each other? How do four masterpieces sound that do not, at first sight, appear to be connected? Find out at our concert.
The Magic Harp, a chivalric drama in three acts, would serve only as a cultural curiosity even if the lost libretto were found and the work itself could be staged. Melodrama, which was the standalone genre of the era, would in all probability put the 21st century listener to the test; but the choruses of the piece and the romances of the troubadour who possesses the enchanted instrument make this one of Schubert’s nest works. Of this, only the great overture remains as a standard concert hall piece.
Bartók composed his violin concerto between August 1937 and December 1938, on the commission of Zoltán Székely. Because of the tone effects and the many special, mixed sounds, the piece is highly challenging for violinists, orchestras and conductors alike. The 1939 recording of the world premiere is still considered the gold standard by performers and audiences.
In 1931, Béla Bartók orchestrated five of his earlier piano works and arranged them into a vemovement cycle. Each of them, except for the closing movement entitled Swineherd’s Dance from Ürög, is actually an adaptation of a folk song. Bartók commented that “this is how the last recorder-player of Felső-Iregh performed the melody of [the folk song] ‘The cricket is getting married?.”
Schubert’s Fifth Symphony is the only one that was openly performed during the composer’s life. The composer, not yet twenty, reached back for inspiration to the classical masters of Vienna; musicologists have demonstrated how heavily Mozart influenced the work. The symphony’s sound is not yet that of the ‘Unfinished’ symphony or Winterreise, there is no sign of resignation, but instead one hears youthful momentum and optimism.