Conducted by Daniel Harding, the Concertgebouworkest is performing Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ Symphony, his ode to the countryside. Leonidas Kavakos also takes to the stage to perform Mendelssohn’s popular Violin Concerto. The concert opens with Schumann.
The Concertgebouworkest is performing Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony (‘Pastoral’) under the direction of Daniel Harding. ‘Sinfonia pastorale: a recollection of country life’, the composer noted in his score. This ode to the countryside would become one of Beethoven’s best-loved works. Before the interval, the acclaimed Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos shares the stage with the orchestra in a performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s brilliant Violin Concerto. The programme also features Robert Schumann’s Overture to Genoveva.
‘No one loves the great outdoors as much as I do,’ said Beethoven, who naturally took a long walk every day – not just to enjoy the natural world, but apparently because it also stimulated his creativity. Of the ‘Pastoral’, Beethoven said that the music was ‘more an expression of feeling than a painting’. Yet the titles he gave the movements speak for themselves, and it takes little imagination to recognise in the music such things as the benevolent tranquillity of nature, a bird twittering or a thunderstorm.
The leading Greek violinist is a welcome guest with the Concertgebouworkest. Six seasons ago, Kavakos even served as the very first artist in residence in the orchestra’s history. But he has yet to perform Mendelssohn’s beloved Violin Concerto in E minor with the orchestra. A long-awaited performance!
Mendelssohn long doubted whether he should compose a violin concerto, as he feared it would not stand up to Beethoven’s. While working on the composition, Mendelssohn frequently consulted his childhood friend, the violinist Ferdinand David. This makes it the first violin concerto to have been composed in close collaboration with a violinist.