St Petersburg, Concert Hall

Beethoven. Mahler

Ludwig van Beethoven. Concerto for piano and orchestra No. 1 in D Major
Gustav Mahler. Symphony No. 1 in D major (Titan)

A tall, reserved and quiet presence on the podium, Znaider conducted Schumann’s Second Symphony and Brahms’ “Tragic” Overture from memory, imposing no wayward interpretations, inclining toward slow tempos but responding to the inherent dramas. Schumann is a composer we can root for, and Znaider’s account of the Second Symphony proved the highlight of the evening...
Los Angeles Times, 2010
  Virtuosic...(Abboud Ashkar) gave us a beautiful music lesson, full of poetry, stroking the piano he gave beautiful and delicate colours, without making us work hard.
La Gazette, 2009

Even in his youth, Beethoven, when appearing as a pianist, stunned audiences with the innovative nature of his style, his bravura and the expressiveness of his improvisations. In 1787, during a brief sojourn in Vienna, he visited Mozart and drew the latter’s admiration with his art. Following his eventual move to the Austrian capital, Beethoven won widespread acclaim, performing in the townhouses of philanthropic aristocrats, at concerts and at “academies” – as composers’ evenings with varied programmes were known – where composers introduced audiences to their latest works.
Beethoven wrote his piano concerti for just such academies. They opened a new age in the history of the genre. The composer elevated the concerto to the level of the symphony and underlined the leading role played by the soloist, in each and every case uniquely and inimitably rethinking the comparison between the solo part and the orchestra. Forming a unique “portrait” of Beethoven at a specific stage in his life, the concerti give us the wonderful opportunity to follow the evolution of the composer’s creative style. For example, in his first two concerti – in C Major and in B Flat Major, which in terms of the chronology of composition and performance preceded the former – there is still a clear “genetic” link to concerto works by Mozart and Haydn. But through the normal shading of a classical concerto, here the image of Beethoven himself can be distinguished: we cannot but notice the new scale of the entire composition, the new qualities of the dynamism of sound, the energy of development and the expression. The composer’s inventiveness is amazing in the finale of the first concerto, where we can distinctly make out Beethoven’s sheer “impertinence”.
Nadezhda Kulygina


Speaking of his First Symphony, Mahler said that it “… was born of an episode of love; that is what lies at its core, or rather what preceded it in the life of its creator.” The first movement, grandiose in terms of scale, “draws the dawn awakening of nature, emerging from silence, from the early morning frozen sounds: birdsong, the fanfares of a hunting horn, calls that blend together in an indistinct, growing rumble…” (Inna Barsova). The appearance of the Hero, like Wagner’s Siegfried, “personifies” this lofty pastorale, decorated from start to finish with songlike flourishes and melodious flights drawn from the Songs of a Wandering Apprentice.
The scherzo is a full-blooded life-affirming version of a folk dance, muscular and rough in the outer sections and a refined and gracious Ländler in the middle.
The third movement – Funeral March in the Manner of Callot – is a grotesque musical interpretation of a cheap popular print well known in Austria – the engraving Die Beerdigung des Jägers by the artist Moritz von Schwindt. The funeral procession of animals burying the hunter is a token of the hypocrisy and lies that reign in life. The finale forms the dramatic heart of the symphony and is a symbol of the integrity of man, drawing his energy and reviving his spirits together with nature. It is to the finale that Mahler’s words most relate concerning the idea of the First Symphony’s depicting “a heroic being filled with energy, his life and sufferings, the struggle and the resistance to fate”. As the composer’s first biographer Paul Stefan said perfectly, in Mahler’s music “life begins on the street and ends in eternity”.
Iosif Raiskin

Age category 6+

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