Herbert Blomstedt is leading the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Johannes Brahms's Symphony No. 1 in all its dramatic, titanic might, preceded by the Mellanspel (Intermezzo) from Wilhelm Stenhammar’s cantata Sången. Blomstedt, who makes a guest appearance nearly every year with the orchestra, has given a number of successful performances of symphonies and other works by Brahms with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, always managing to make the music sound fresh and vibrant. The Swedish-American conductor celebrated his ninetieth birthday in 2017, but has no intentions of retiring from the stage. He claims there's no miracle method to surviving his very busy concert schedule, recently saying, 'I love music. How could you refuse to spend time with your beloved? It is a gift!'
The first half of the programme is devoted to Felix Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn's 1829 visit to the ruins of Queen Mary's palace in Edinburgh promptly inspired him to compose his 'Scottish' Symphony. Although he failed to mention its Scottish character after finally completing the symphony in 1842, no one could put the rugged Scottish landscape out of their mind when hearing this spectacular work.