Artists

Conductor

4 - 6 Oct '19

Tour I
4 - 6 Oct '19

Philippe Jordan

Tour

Concert dates and locations

  • 04 October 2019 | Victoria Hall Geneva | 20:00
  • 05 October 2019 | Casino Bern | 19:30
  • 06 October 2019 | Tonhalle Maag Zurich | 18:30

Artists

Programme Geneva

Overture As a prelude to each concert, talented Swiss singers and instrumentalists will have the opportunity to introduce themselves to the public. This is a twofold "overture", which not only serves as an introduction to the concerts but also as a career gateway for our "our stars of tomorrow”.


Ouverture

Brahms' only violin concerto is closely related to the composer's friendship with violinist Joseph Joachim, who was already a widely recognised virtuoso when the two met in 1853. Brahms was a late-comer in the field of orchestral music: it wasn’t until 1878 that he set to work on his Violin Concerto, an instrument of which he knew little regarding its technical possibilities. The composer, therefore, appealed to Joachim as his advisor and left it to him to write a cadenza for the concerto's first movement, even though the two musicians each defended their own opinions regarding other points. Performers nowadays usually chose to play Joachim's cadenza, although there are some twenty other versions available, composed by Leopold Auer, Fritz Kreisler or Eugène Ysaÿe, to name just a few. The Concerto in D major was originally planned to be in four movements, but Brahms finally settled for a single Adagio. This central movement is based on a simple almost folk-like tune, whereas the dazzling finale shows off the gipsy spirit that Joachim knew and mastered so well. After the lukewarm applause that greeted the work's premiere on 1st January 1879 in Leipzig, conductor Hans von Bülow decided that Brahms had written his concerto "against" the violin. To which the Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman answered that it was indeed a concerto "for" the violin, but "against" the orchestra and came to the conclusion that "the winner is the violin". Brahms subsequently made extensive revisions, again with the expert advice of his friend Joachim.
Brahms waited until his forties before tackling his major orchestral works. The four symphonies were composed within a decade and are grouped chronologically two by two (1876-1877 and 1883-1885). Each pair offers very contrasting faces. The Third Symphony in F major is the only work that Brahms produced in 1883. The composer spent that summer in Wiesbaden, where he found that it took "more than a pen to describe such a beautiful place". Having settled in a private house, Brahms devoted his stay to the most personal of his four symphonies, the one in which his North German character shows through in terms of heroic bravery and melancholic tenderness. Conductor Hans Richter described this F major Symphony as "Brahms' Eroica", clearly associating the work with Beethoven's Symphony No. 3. The audience was not mistaken: Brahms' Third Symphony was premiered on 2nd December 1883 in Vienna and immediately met with immense popular success, that soon spread way beyond the Austrian borders. The work was triumphantly performed in Germany, Holland, Switzerland and Russia, before winning the favours of the English and American public and critics. Brahms was somewhat annoyed about so much enthusiasm at the expense of his two previous symphonies and ended up referring to his opus 90 as "the unfortunately too famous symphony". Curiously, this work is now the least performed of the four Brahms symphonies. The third movement, Poco Allegretto, was used as a musical accompaniment to Anatole Litvak's film Aimez-vous Brahms (1961) based on Françoise Sagan's famous novel. Serge Gainsbourg also adapted it for his song Baby alone in Babylon.

Programme Bern and Zurich

Overture As a prelude to each concert, talented Swiss singers and instrumentalists will have the opportunity to introduce themselves to the public. This is a twofold "overture", which not only serves as an introduction to the concerts but also as a career gateway for our "our stars of tomorrow”.


Ouverture

Brahms' only violin concerto is closely related to the composer's friendship with violinist Joseph Joachim, who was already a widely recognised virtuoso when the two met in 1853. Brahms was a late-comer in the field of orchestral music: it wasn’t until 1878 that he set to work on his Violin Concerto, an instrument of which he knew little regarding its technical possibilities. The composer, therefore, appealed to Joachim as his advisor and left it to him to write a cadenza for the concerto's first movement, even though the two musicians each defended their own opinions regarding other points. Performers nowadays usually chose to play Joachim's cadenza, although there are some twenty other versions available, composed by Leopold Auer, Fritz Kreisler or Eugène Ysaÿe, to name just a few. The Concerto in D major was originally planned to be in four movements, but Brahms finally settled for a single Adagio. This central movement is based on a simple almost folk-like tune, whereas the dazzling finale shows off the gipsy spirit that Joachim knew and mastered so well. After the lukewarm applause that greeted the work's premiere on 1st January 1879 in Leipzig, conductor Hans von Bülow decided that Brahms had written his concerto "against" the violin. To which the Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman answered that it was indeed a concerto "for" the violin, but "against" the orchestra and came to the conclusion that "the winner is the violin". Brahms subsequently made extensive revisions, again with the expert advice of his friend Joachim.
The E minor Symphony is often considered as Brahms' most "classical" symphony. It certainly is the strictest and the most concentrated of all four symphonies, although it did seem to cast some doubt in the musician's mind. Brahms had surrounded the composition with a certain amount of mystery, even suggesting that the work in progress could be a piano concerto! In fact, the composer busied himself during two consecutive summers with his Op. 98. The Allegro and Andante were written in 1884 during a stay in Styria, while the other two movements were completed the following summer. It is fortunate enough that the work ever got to be heard since the manuscript almost went up in flames in the fire that broke out in Brahms' summer residence! As usual, it was in Vienna that the composer gave a first private hearing of the work, in a transcription for two pianos that confused even his most faithful supporters. "You're too powerful!" complained his friend from Zurich, Theodore Billroth. Brahms chose not to change a single note, and after a careful preparation with the musicians, the Fourth Symphony was a resounding success when Brahms conducted its premiere in Meiningen. The work presents a serious and tormented mood. This is underlined by Brahms' choice of E minor, a very unusual key among symphonists. The last movement is modelled on a Chaconne and lines up 35 variations on a theme borrowed from Bach's Cantata BWV 150 "Nach dir, Herr".

Recommend now

Good to know

As the current Music Director of both the Wiener Symphoniker (since the 2014-2015 season) and the Opéra National de Paris (since 2009), Philippe Jordan has established himself as one of the most talented and exciting conductors of his generation. He began his musical training as a member of the Zurich Sängerknaben, before pursuing his piano studies at the Zurich Conservatory, where he also followed Hans Ulrich Lehmann's theory and composition classes. Former Chief Conductor in Graz, Philippe Jordan was also assistant to Daniel Barenboim at the Berlin Opera. Since the turn of the century, he has worked at the most prestigious international opera houses and festivals including Glyndebourne, Aix-en-Provence, Covent Garden, the Met, La Scala, Salzburg and Bayreuth. Philippe Jordan’s orchestral engagements as a guest conductor have included the world's leading orchestras in Europe and the United States. The Swiss conductor has been appointed Music Director of the Wiener Staatsoper beginning in 2020.

Recommend now