Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam
Weber / Prokofjev / Mahler
Date of EventTuesday, 15. 5. 2018 from 20.00
Event placeMunicipal House – Smetana Hall
- Carl Maria von Weber: Euryanthe op. 81
- Sergej Prokofjev: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major Op. 26
- Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 1 in D major "Titan"
- Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam
- Daniele Gatti - conductor
- Daniil Trifonov - piano
- Symfonický orchestr Pražské konzervatoře
- Miriam Němcová - conductor
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At this concert, Daniil Trifonov, one of the most promising pianists of the rising generation, is making his return to Prague Spring in Prokofiev’s great Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major Op. 26. The work places both technical and interpretive demands of the highest order on the performer. Played by this young artist described by the New York Times as having “scintillating technique and a virtuosic flair”, this promises to be something special. Playing the accompaniment will be the peerless Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, which will also be performing works by Weber and Mahler.
The concert will also showcase the Amsterdam orchestra’s unique project called Side by Side, enabling young musicians – in this case the students at the Prague Conservatory – to experience for themselves what it is like to play alongside the best players. This will take place during the opening work on the evening’s programme, an overture by Weber.
The players of the Prague Conservatory Symphony Orchestra will be rehearsing the piece in advance under their chief conductor Miriam Němcová. Before the concert, principal players of the Amsterdam orchestra will be coming to Prague to give master classes to help prepare the young conservatory students for the joint performance. They will then be appearing together on stage at Prague Spring in the Weber overture under the baton of Daniele Gatti. Afterwards, they will be seated in the hall to listen to the rest of the programme played by their famous colleagues.
Euryanthe Op. 81 is the overture to the opera composed by Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826) in 1823. This great work of the Romantic era was written for the opera in Vienna, which the composer himself had approached with the hope that his new work would be as sensational a success as Der Freischütz had been two years earlier. It was not, however, the composer’s intent to make a mere copy of his earlier opera, and instead he tried to create a pioneering, absolutely unique opera, “the goal of which is the merger and mutual interaction of all of the sister arts”. Although the innovative music was ahead of its time in many ways, it could not rescue the weak libretto, in which the author of the terribly complicated story was working with a number of fanciful elements. Although these very elements gave rise to enchanting music full of chromaticism, the opera was never much of a success. The overture, however, has become a standard part of the concert repertoire.
For his Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major Op. 26, Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) sought inspiration from sketches he had drafted between 1911 and 1918. Unlike his Second Piano Concerto, in this case the composer avoided complex, dissonant sonorities, giving preference instead to clearly comprehensible music overflowing with a wealth of invention. The composer himself played the extremely difficult solo part at the concerto’s premiere in 1921 in Chicago, where it got a lukewarm reception. Prokofiev had to wait a year for his triumphant performance in Paris under the baton of Serge Koussevitzky, when the work got the recognition it deserved. Today, the concerto is one of the composer’s most frequently played works because of its virtuosic solo part and its incredibly beautiful orchestration, worked out to the very smallest details.
Gustav Mahler (1850-1911) had already begun work on his Symphony No. 1 in D major “Titan” in 1884 while serving as a conductor in Kassel. At the time, he had a full workload, so he was only able to devote time to composing occasionally, so the symphony was not finished until 1888 in Leipzig. As the composer later admitted, passionate love had been the impulse for the work’s creation, but in Mahler’s own words: “The Symphony begins where the love affair ends; it is based on the affair that preceded the Symphony in the emotional life of the composer. But the extrinsic experience became the occasion, not the message of the work.” The symphony originally had five movements and was divided into two parts. Part One, From the Days of Youth, consisted of the first three movements, while Part Two, Human Comedy, contained movements four and five. The composer later removed the verbal commentary as well as the second movement, and the titles of the four remaining movements retained only the tempo indications.
The world-famous Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam was founded in 1888, and from the beginning it has enjoyed the favour of great musical figures like Gustav Mahler and Igor Stravinsky. Already in the 1920s, the orchestra and its chief conductor at the time, Willem Mengelberg, had become pioneers in the performing of works by Gustav Mahler. Today, the orchestra still collaborates regularly with a number of leading composers (John Adams, Thomas Adès) and conductors including Zubin Mehta and Christian Thielmann. Over the years, the RCO has recorded over 1,000 LPs, CDs and DVDs.
“What he’s able to do with his hands is technically unbelievable. Just like his touch – there is something tender in him, as well as something demoniacal. I’ve never heard anything like it in my life.”
Daniil Trifonov was born in 1991 in Nizhny Novgorod. Thanks to his excellent family background (his father is a composer and his mother teachers music theory), he began playing piano at age five, and two years later the family moved to Moscow, where he attended the famed Gnessin School of Music. His breakthrough came in 2011, when he won the prestigious Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow and the Arthur Rubenstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. Soon thereafter, he first appeared at Prague Spring, when his 2014 recital bewitched the public and critics alike.
A native of Milan, Daniele Gatti studied piano, composition, and conducting at the Verdi Conservatory. In the course of his successful career, he has worked with ensembles including the Orchestre National de France, the Royal Philharmonic, the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and the Orchestra Filharmonica della Scala. He makes regular guest appearances as an opera conductor at London’s Covent Garden, the Teatro Comunal in Bologna, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He is one of the few Italian conductors who has been invited to perform at the famed Bayreuth Festival (2008-2011, Parsifal).
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