The Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne makes its performances archive available on demand with GO PLUS, the orchestra’s streaming platform, presenting a selection of entire concerts performed by the Gürzenich Orchestra from each season. The concert HD streams of the 2017/18 season, recorded live in Cologne’s Philharmonie include:
Bruckner | Ligeti
Christian Tetzlaff, violin
François-Xavier Roth, conductor
Bruckner’s 3rd Symphony is a piece where these seemingly contradictory aspects are especially obvious, particularly when one looks at the first version which is performed in Cologne. On one hand one can hear what he owes to Wagner, to whom he dedicated this symphony. On the other hand one can also hear the influences of the old German contrapuntal tradition. And then, there is this sometimes naive and very pure side of his invention.
That is something François-Xavier Roth finds in Ligeti, too: musical invention on the highest abstract level and a wonderfully alienated folk aspect, obligations to an old form – in this case the concerto – but a total transformation of this model from a modern point of view. These are the reasons why these two pieces lie next to each other marvellously. On another level, the Ligeti Violin Concerto is a piece that belongs to the Cologne heritage: It was premiered by our neighbour orchestra, the WDR Symphony. It is rare that a city has two great orchestras who are at the same time so deeply involved with the contemporary creation.
Boulez | Beethoven | Bartók
Benjamin Grosvenor, piano
François-Xavier Roth, conductor
To write an all-encompassing book that bears within itself a microcosm of the entire universe—that was the dream of the writer Stéphane Mallarmé. In his »Livre pour Cordes - 1968«, the young composer Pierre Boulez continued dreaming the dream. Developing from “Movements for String Quartet”, it grew and proliferated to a »Book for Strings« with which he opens a new chapter in the music of the past century. Beethoven performed his second concerto himself on the piano many times, and also developed it further before having the printed form published, an important step on the path to self-realisation. Béla Bartók sums up his pioneering oeuvre in his »solo for everyone«, the Concerto for Orchestra: spurred by the rhythmic energy of Hungarian folk music, animated by a musical language in which the elements of nature themselves begin to speak, formed by perfect compositional craft, he invites his listeners to an ecstatic dance on the volcano of the 20th century. The master of ceremonies for this programme with key works is General Music Director François-Xavier Roth himself. At his side: Benjamin Grosvenor, a very special pianist of the younger generation.
Debussy | Salonen | Bartók | Ligeti | Ravel
Nils Mönkemeyer, viola
Nicholas Collon, conductor
»Are these billowing waves the softness of air? Are these the fragrant vapours of pleasure?« Isolde’s words also come to mind with the lascivious sounds with which Claude Debussy commences his prelude to the »afternoon of a faun«. Like clouds of heavy perfume, the atmosphere of dream and desire, of regret and lust in the Arcadian realm begins to spread with the flute solo, thus setting the mood for Nicholas Collon’s first subscription concert; Collon is the Gürzenich Orchestra’s new First Guest Director. Besides the faun and nymphs from Debussy’s Prélude, two more famous couples from world literature appear: Daphnis and Chloé, and Tristan and Isolde. What they have in common is that the power of their love pushes boundaries—and that has also pushed music into new dimensions. Be it Ravel in the impressionist colour mixtures of his »choreographic symphony« or Wagner with his unresolved Tristan chord. Longing even plays into Bartók’s Viola Concerto in the form of a folk song, »For there is no med'cine for Love, neither meat, nor drink, nor any Charm ...« Nils Mönkemeyer will reach for the viola at this concert incl. Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Pentatonic Ètute, while György Ligeti, as always, reaches for the stars.
Rimskij-Korsakow | Taneev | Rachmaninov
Anna Samuil, soprano
Dmytro Popov, tenor
Vladislav Sulimsky, bass-baritone
Dmitrij Kitajenko, conductor
So long as clocks were not widespread, the sound of bells defined the rhythm of life for communities. Pealing bells announce not only the rhythm of the hours – even seasons have different bell tones. Bells ring in the event of fire and alarm; wedding bells bear witness to life; death knells proclaim the last hour. In 1913 Sergei Rachmaninov composed his epic choral symphony, which encompasses the entire cycle of life, based on a sonorous poem by Edgar Allan Poe. A high-calibre trio of soloists and the powerful Czech Chamber Choir Brno will perform the opulent work, conducted by honorary conductor Dmitri Kitayenko.
Sergei Taneyev, Tchaikovsky’s only student of composition, strikes a different tone in his cantata about church father John of Damascus: John was described as »streaming with gold« due to his talent for oratory, and lived to be over 100 years old. Taneyev also turns his attention to the self-doubts that can beset a believer; with his opus 1 he created a fascinating work somewhere between orthodox rigour and polyphonic optimism. The residents of the legendary city of Kitezh also seek refuge in faith from the attacking Tatars. Bells augur a rescue for the residents.
“The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya” - Suite in four movements
“John of Damascus” - Cantata for mixed choir and orchestra
“The Bells” - Poem for soli, mixed choir and orchestra
Mendelssohn Bartholdy | Manoury | Beethoven
Emmanuel Pahud, flute
François-Xavier Roth, conductor
On 7 August 1829, Mendelssohn Bartholdy would not have been able to send his family a selfie. So instead he sent 21 bars of music by letter »to make clear to you the extraordinary effect the Hebrides have had on me. […] You’ll excuse me if I keep it short; what’s more, the best I have to report is precisely in the above lines of music.« With his overture, which occurred to him at the sight of an enormous cave along the lonely Scottish cliffs, he became one of the founders of programme music. Programmatic backgrounds were always presumed in Beethoven’s Fifth: is fate actually knocking at the door here? Or are the four knocking tones of the main motif that pulsate through the entire symphony a challenge to all tyrants? Every age has found its interpretation of the Fifth – Gürzenich General Music Director Francois-Xavier Roth will search for today’s »symphony of fate«. As the conclusion and culmination of the season you can also hear a new flute concerto written by Philippe Manoury, »Composer for Cologne«, written for arguably the greatest flute virtuoso of the present day: Emmanuel Pahud.
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
The Hebrides Overture in B minor
“Saccades” - Concerto for flute and orchestra – Premiere
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 5 in C minor
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