About this Performance
After giving the premiere of her husband’s Piano Concerto, the great virtuoso of the time, Clara Schumann, wrote “... how rich in invention, how interesting from the beginning to the end, how fresh and what a beautiful coherent whole!” In those days, a typical piano concerto was simply a vehicle for virtuosos to show off their technique, musically lightweight and shoving the orchestra into the background as nothing but accompaniment. Schumann had other ideas and tried to create a concerto where the orchestra was an equal and integral partner with the soloist. In working out the themes and structure, he drew on the conflict between “Florestan” and “Eusebius,” the names he gave his alter egos. Florestan embodied Schumann’s passionate and outgoing side, while Eusebius characterized his dreamier, passive streak. Like with much of his music, you can hear the interaction and contrast of these divergent personalities in the Piano Concerto. Our soloist, Hélène Grimaud, made her acclaimed recording of this concerto at 25, about the same age as Clara when she gave the premiere.
Denmark’s greatest composer Carl Nielsen’s music connects Romanticism to Modernism; his expansion of form and tonality proved crucial to the development of the modern symphony. Nielsen wrote, “the only thing that music in the end can express: resting forces in contrast to active ones” – eerily mirroring the introspective Eusebius and the impetuous Florestan. In the first of his Fifth Symphony’s two movements, the conflict is embodied by a renegade drummer who goes up against the rest of the orchestra. Nielsen expert Herbert Blomstedt’s recording of this work is a critics’ top choice.See other concerts in this series
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