Artists

Conductor

13 - 15 Nov '20

Tour II
13 - 15 Nov '20

Rudolf Buchbinder

Tour

Concert dates and locations

  • 13 November 2020 | Tonhalle Maag Zurich | 19:30
  • 14 November 2020 | Victoria Hall Geneva | 20:00
  • 15 November 2020 | Casino Bern | 17:00

Artists

Programme

At the end of 1792, Beethoven definitely left Bonn, his hometown, to settle in Vienna. « You will receive the spirit of Mozart from the hands of Haydn » was the entry Count Waldstein wrote in the young musician's album at the time of his departure. From then on, Beethoven's talent blossomed in the salons of the aristocratic and princely homes that were then the centre of Viennese musical life. Since the nobility maintained its own quartets, the first works written by Beethoven in Vienna were mainly dedicated to chamber music. The musician also made a name for himself as a pianist and improviser : his keyboard works - with or without accompaniment - were soon among the best-selling pieces published in Vienna. Two of those works were Beethoven's first piano concertos, published in 1801 but composed a few years earlier for personal use. The Concerto No. 1 in C major is actually later work than the one in B-flat major, but it was published a month before the Op. 19, which explains the order of the concerto's numbering. The composer himself premiered the work in 1795, probably during a concert celebrating Haydn's return to Vienna after his second stay in England. As was his custom, the composer improvised the cadenza. Only a decade later did he decide to write out not just one, but three different versions of the cadenza, after having made revisions in the entire concerto. Although he considered this somewhat Mozartian work to be already « passé », Beethoven continued performing it on several later occasions. The flute, as well as the oboes, trumpets and timpani that enrich the orchestra, remain silent during the slow movement. This extended Largo dominated by the solo instrument is framed by an Allegro con brio preceded by an ample orchestral introduction and a vigorous and highly rhythmical Rondo.
Beethoven started the composition of his fifth and last piano concerto in 1808, in the wake of the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies. The work was finished in 1809, after an interruption due to the bombing of Vienna by Napoleon's troops. Some fourteen years separate this work from the first sketches of the C major concerto. During this time, the brilliant young virtuoso had become a man afflicted by deafness, but intent on pursuing his obstinate struggle for artistic progress and his quest for a perfect fusion between soloist and orchestra. The concerto op. 73, which is dedicated to Archduke Rudolph, can be perceived as a symphony with piano rather than a concerto. When the work was premiered in 1811 at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Beethoven's deafness was already too advanced to enable him to perform as a soloist. Friedrich Schneider, who was then organist at the Leipzig University, premiered the work. Carl Czerny, one of Beethoven's former student, gave the first Vienna hearing in February 1812. Beethoven had taken care to write the cadenzas himself, which he wasn't in the habit of doing. The concerto's nickname, however, is not the composer's own, since Beethoven had simply referred to the work as a « Grand Concerto ». The critics of the time did not know what to make out of this remarkable score, which they just described as « Original Full of fantasy Impressive », for lack of more pertinent comments. How indeed could they have fully appreciated this concerto that begins with an extended, seemingly improvised cadenza and in which the soloist and orchestra confront each other in such formidable dialogues? At the end of a slow, almost meditative movement, the rondo explodes with irresistible vitality, and the soloist performs a kind of popular dance with dazzling brilliance.

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Good to know

Rudolf Buchbinder's name is inseparable from that of Beethoven. The legendary pianist worships the German composer. He has performed the complete cycle of Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas sixty times on the concert stage, developing the history of their interpretation over the decades. To celebrate the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth, Rudolf Buchbinder was already associated with the Wiener Symphoniker at the beginning of the summer to perform all five Beethoven Piano Concertos within three days. The Austrian pianist also initiated a new cycle of variations on the same waltz by Anton Diabelli on which Beethoven's 33 Variations are based. For this innovative project, he commissioned eleven contemporary composers of various generations and backgrounds to compose new variations. In the course of his career that spans 60 years, Rudolf Buchbinder has continually attached great importance to source research. His private collection includes 39 complete editions of Beethoven's piano sonatas, as well as original copies of Brahms' two piano concertos. He is also a writer in his own right and has published an autobiography and a book about Beethoven. Rudolf Buchbinder is the initiator and artistic director of the Grafenegg Festival (Lower Austria), where he appears on stage as a keen chamber music player.

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