Lahav Shani conductor, Martha Argerich pianist

מרתה ארגריך

Date

24.12.2019

Tuesday 20:00

Hall

Auditorium

Venue

Rappaport Hall, Haifa

Venue

Rappaport Hall, Haifa

Hall

Auditorium

Artists

Lahav Shani, conductor 

Martha Argerich, pianist 

Concert Program

Beethoven: Piano Concerto no. 2
Brahms: Symphony no. 2

Event Info

The legendary pianist, Martha Argerich, is returning to the IPO for a series of concerts conducted by Lahav Shani, Music Director Designate of the orchestra.

1795. Vienna. The local Composers League polishes the Burgtheater in preparation for the annual fundraising concert for local musicians, their widows and their orphans. The centerpiece of the concert is a new work by the groundbreaking young composer Ludwig Van Beethoven, who will also conduct the entire concert. At the time (two days before the concert), four miserable copyists sit and receive from the feverish composer page after page of the Concerto’s finale (Rondo). They must prepare the orchestra parts overnight, and pray that the composer does not get writer’s block at the very last moment. All’s well that ends well: Beethoven and his copyists completed the task, the work was performed on time and was a great success. Up to the time of its publication it underwent a series of editing and rewriting.

If one thinks about it, nothing in the history of this Concerto is as it seems. Firstly, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 2 is actually the first piano concerto written by the mature composer (the young Beethoven wrote a piano concerto in E-flat major when he was only 13!), but it was published after the C major Concerto (no. 1). The third movement that we will hear in these concerts is not the one written hastily for the premiere (the original movement was later published as Rondo in B-flat major for Piano and Orchestra).

And the second movement? In 1807 Beethoven wrote to his publisher: “As is so often the case with me, I did not write the piano part in the score (for previous performances), so you’ll have to receive it now in my illegible handwriting”. We can only assume that what we know today as the wonderful second movement is merely a “formal” version of the movement, whose piano part was improvised by Beethoven at the premiere.

Should this expedition into the work’s compositional process change the way we listen to it? Of course not. The work is written for a smaller orchestra than in Beethoven’s later piano concertos (this is the only concerto without timpani). The work may be less “dramatic” than the C major Concerto and it may contain certain elements that resemble Mozart’s style more than the mature Beethoven, who was an innovator structurally and stylistically in his last three concertos. However, Beethoven’s personal stylistic stamp is unmistakable here, in the harmonic writing, in the lyricism of the second movement, in the sophistication of the rondo theme and in the sensible organization of the last movement.

Musicians and music lovers like to identify with the suffering of the great artists – whether deaf, mad, poor or in desperate pursuit of love. Johannes Brahms suffered terribly until he managed to overcome the block that prevented him from writing a symphony. Perhaps it was Beethoven’s shadow that caused a longer than expected maturing period in this prolific and consistent composer; perhaps it was Brahms’ famous self-criticism; perhaps Brahms felt he must find the way he perceives the symphonic medium and solve questions of relations between sonority and form (i.e., what music is required for a large-scale work and how does the symphony orchestra fit into this genre). Perhaps there were other covert reasons that exist in the internal dialogue of a creator and artist. Once Brahms completed his First Symphony, at the age of 43, it seems that the floodgates were opened. The Second Symphony was completed in four months and received, like its predecessor, tremendous success. Brahms was blessed with a special sense of humor, and when he sent the score of the symphony to his publisher, he wrote: “The work is 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, of course, was a joke. Symphony no. 2 is considered “bright and optimistic”. It is always interesting to see how researchers try to explain the reason for a certain “mood” or “character” they find in a given work. There are those who claim that Brahms felt that the “burden of proof” of writing a “serious symphony” was lifted from him (after the tremendous success of his First Symphony). Others maintain that it is due to the symphony being written during a pleasant vacation in the Austrian Alps, and there are those who associate the work’s character to the fact that in the year of its composition (1877) Brahms reached financial independence for the first time. Perhaps all of these explanations influenced the work’s character and the type of music, and it is also possible that the composer’s basic impulse to vary the music he writes was a significant factor in this process.

Whatever the reason, this symphony brims with lovely tunes – it is a melodious work, relatively clear in its textures and orchestration, and its last movement enthused the audience to such an extent that the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Hans Richter, performed it as an encore at the work’s premiere on 30 December 1877.

Text: Prof. Oded Zehavi

Price Range

140 - 460 NIS

Duration

approx 90 minutes including intermission

Duration

approx 90 minutes including intermission

Price range

140 - 460 NIS

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