Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067
Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor
Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2 in E minor
We will be opening with the flautists’ favourite, Bach’s Orchestral Suite in B minor, before hearing two stunning works born through considerable labour pains: Schumann’s only piano concerto and Rachmaninoff’s movie soundtrack-evoking Symphony No. 2.
“This is a sacred piece for flautists,” says Iván Fischer about the BFO’s final piece by Bach this season, his Orchestral Suite No. 2, which Fischer will be conducting. The fast-moving, glimmering work gives soloists the perfect opportunity to display their technical brilliance, while retaining its grace, delicacy, and charm. Bach did not think much of music as entertainment, but he found inspiration in dance music as can best be seen in his orchestral suites.
Robert Schumann originally studied to become a virtuoso of the piano, but too much practising and the alleged use of a device to lengthen his fingers left him with a paralysed digit, so he had content himself with ‘just’ composition. He wrote plenty of pieces for the piano, yet completed only one of several piano concertos. That concerto, premièred by Schumann’s wife Clara and performed at this BFO concert by the Grammy Award winning pianist Radu Lupu, has had an eventful afterlife. Grieg drew from it for his own piano concerto (also in A minor), which in turn would become a model for Rachmaninoff’s first.
One of the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s most successful CDs contains the latter composer’s Symphony No. 2 (1906–7), a piece also conceived under trying circumstances. Following the poor reviews of his First symphony, the composer fell into a depression which only the success of his Second would heal. While ‘talkie’ films were well established by the time this romantic piece premièred, it is widely regarded as having the impact of a movie soundtrack.