Once disturbing, now beguiling
»The Fifth is a cursed work. No one gets it,« Gustav Mahler noted at a performance in Hamburg on 13 March 1905. While the texts and programmes of Symphonies Nos. 2, 3 and 4 had offered listeners some help in understanding the work, Mahler entered a new creative phase with the purely instrumental Fifth. The composer spoke of an »entirely new style«. And, at the time, it was not just in Hamburg that audiences seemed out of their depth.
Nowadays, of course, it is not only the »Adagietto« from the Fifth that has become world-famous – thanks to its use in Luchino Visconti’s »Death in Venice«. In Hamburg, music lovers have long since developed a great affection for their former opera conductors: Christoph Eschenbach, Christoph von Dohnányi, Michael Gielen and Thomas Hengelbrock have each set new Mahler benchmarks with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra. Now the current principal conductor and self-confessed Mahler aficionado Alan Gilbert sets forth his celebrated Mahler series with a performance of the Fifth.
»Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto gives us, for the first time, the hideous notion that there can be music which stinks to the ear.« This was the verdict of the savage Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick when it first debuted. He was particularly disturbed by the wildly folkloristic impact of the final movement. How times have changed though. Nowadays, it is not only the »catchy« melody in the first movement but precisely the spontaneous »roughness« of the finale that makes Tchaikovsky’s work a perennial favourite of Romantic violin concertos. Joshua Bell, the man with the legendary Stradivarius, incidentally presents the wonderful idea that there might be works of music whose aroma you can hear...
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester
Joshua Bell violin
conductor Alan Gilbert
Piotr I. Tschaikowsky
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Op. 35
– Interval –
Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor
19:00 / Elbphilharmonie, Großer Saal
Estimated end time
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra Subscription D