Czech Philharmonic performs with Petr Altrichter and German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott in Kurume as a part of the orchestra's 2017 tour of Asia.
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Overture to The Bartered Bride
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat major „Emperor“
Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98
Alice Sara Ott
Ludwig van Beethoven’s symphonic legacy represented a challenge for almost every composer of the following generations. Composers were expected to come with their own approach which would be as good as Beethoven’s music, while not imitating it, and express their own individuality. Because of the great respect to Beethoven’s symphonic legacy, Johannes Brahmsdid not finish his Symphony No. 1 in C minor until he turned forty-four. He confided his fears to conductor Hermann Levi in the early 1870: “I’ll never get a symphony written. You have no idea of what it is like always to hear such a giant’s footsteps marching behind you.”
The Symphony No. 4 in E minor Op. 98 is the last of his symphonies, created soon after Symphony No. 3. Brahms worked on the piece in Mürzzuschlag, Styria, where he spent his summer vacation in the years 1884–1885. Despite Brahms’s concerns, the Fourth had a very positive fate. It was premiered on October 25, 1885 in Meiningen, Germany, with Brahms himself conducting. He had a chance to present it with an elite European orchestra – the court orchestra of Meiningen (Meininger Hofkapelle) headed by the legendary Hans von Büllow. A week after the premiere Büllow started a tour with the orchestra of Holland and West Germany, where in addition to other compositions he performed it to great acclaim.
Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 in E minor Op. 98 is considered a masterpiece. The work with themes is dominated by the i.e., developing variations, as this compositional technique was later called by Arnold Schoenberg. It consists of the extension and transformation of the theme that often takes place covertly and often leads to a new final shape. The fourth movement has a surprising polyphonic structure. Brahms conceived it as thirty contrapuntal variations in 8 bars over an ostinato bass, where the main melody is an expansion of a chaconne tune from Bach’s cantata Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich BWV 150. This is incredibly tightly constructed and thoughtful music. When in 1897, shortly before his death, Brahms attended a Viennese performance of this symphony, he was witness to its enthusiastic reception as a work which had already stood the test of time.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) created five piano concertos, leaving unfinished the sixth one which he began in 1815. He built on Mozart’s legacy and developed it further in the presentation of the solo part; he strived for the unity of thought within movements as well as in their mutual relationship, and expanded the harmonic means. The introduction of Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 5 in E flat major Op. 73 confirms the main key; then comes the orchestral exposition which is repeated in modified harmonies. The whole first movement oscillates between the major and minor keys; the change of moods is supported by a contrast of the thematic material. The second movement anticipates the Romantic period by its meditative lyricism. Its conclusion features the theme of the final movement, which moves from the second movement into the third one without interruption. Formally, it is a sonata rondo with an extensive coda.
Piano Concerto in E flat major was composed in 1809 and completed in February 1810; Beethoven dedicated it to his pupil and patron Archduke Rudolf of Habsburg. That same year the concert was published in London; the epithet Emperor was coined by its English publisher. In 1811 the score was also published by Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, where on 28 November 1811 the concerto had its world premiere at the Gewandhaus with the soloist Johann Christian Friedrich Schneider. The Vienna premiere the following year, on 11 February 1812, was performed by another pupil of Beethoven, Carl Czerny. Within a very short time Piano Concerto in E flat major became the most popular of all five piano concertos by Beethoven.
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