Brahms, Nielsen, Bach

Brahms, Nielsen, Bach

Tickets to the Vienna Philharmonic’s subscription concerts are highly prized, with a waiting list stretching into years. Here, however, you can enjoy a front-row seat for this concert from March 2023, conducted by Herbert Blomstedt. The programme features two contrasting works: Brahms’ ultra-Romantic Violin Concerto and Nielsen’s anguished, modernist Symphony No. 5, composed in the aftermath of the First World War, a piece new to the Vienna Philharmonic’s repertoire. First, however, Brahms, and a concerto that has become one of the most famous of all. Soloist Leonidas Kavakos brings virtuosity, passion and sweetness in equal measure to the opening two movements. And he revels in the Eastern European soul of the final “Allegro giocoso”, accentuating its snapping rhythms and digging deep into its boisterous, playful double stopping. The Concerto’s stirring final bars bring into sharp relief the sparse textures of the opening of Carl Nielsen’s Symphony No. 5. It’s a work that wanders, searches, contemplates, before erupting into a tense battle between good and evil, between orchestra and side drum. It’s one of the most striking and brutal moments in all of Nielsen’s music, and is here brought brilliantly to life by Blomstedt, a veteran of this work. The ensuing “Adagio non troppo” harks back to burnished Brucknerian majesty, while the third and final movement introduces flashes of angular Mahlerian brass, frenetic energy and a thunderous coda that releases the tension in a final, golden chord of E-flat Major.

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