Giuseppe Verdi: The Force of Destiny – Overture
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto in C major, K. 467
Pyotr Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E-minor
A fateful evening of games, romance, a dainty waltz and intimate prayer lasting until Tchaikovsky’s symphony releases the sound of victory.
The Austrian Manfred Honeck, who has been leading the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for ten years, is a deeply devout man, which provides him with an internal compass while making music. He is deferential and generous; sincere, humorous and open. He worked at length in Scandinavia, allowing him to easily find common ground with the concert’s Norwegian pianist. According to the New York Times, the Gramophone Award-winner Leif Ove Andsnes is the embodiment of elegance, power and insight.
The programme starts out with the overture of Verdi’s passionate and bloody opera, The Force of Destiny, where the motif of destiny, racing feverishly, fuses with a prayer-like melody.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed eleven piano concertos between 1884 and 1886, a time which also coincided with the debut of The Marriage of Figaro. It was during these prolific years that Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major was born; Mozart’s father, Leopold, found the piece “surprisingly difficult.” The melody takes the stage of the concert piece like a prima donna during the first movement. In the second, intimate and lyrical, it calms down, only for the piece to conclude with happy banter reminiscent of comic opera.
The motif of destiny breaks free once again at the end of the concert. It connects the movements of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, but also undergoes a significant transformation in the process. Initially invoking a funeral ceremony, it broadens into a triumphant march. During World War II, it was precisely this fateful struggle and confidence in victory which made the piece so popular; it was even played during the siege of Leningrad. The shelling launched during the second movement at a concert in autumn 1941 could not stop the performance, either.