Gustavo Gimeno, with whom the Concertgebouw Orchestra also undertook the restart after the first lockdown a year ago, will lead the first live concert since April 16. Italian-inspired works by Schubert and Mendelssohn frame Ligeti's early Concert Românesc, based on Romanian folk music.
“It will be the most enjoyable piece I have written yet, especially the last movement.” Mendelssohn was so enthusiastic about his “Italian symphony” that he interrupted work on other compositions. The sunny and southern temperament of the first movement sets the tone for a heart-warming symphony, which radiates pleasure. The final movement, Saltarello, refers to dances that the young Mendelssohn heard in Rome and Naples.
The opening work of this concert is also light and airy. Like all Viennese music lovers around 1817, Schubert adored Rossini's operas, but he thought the praise his friends bestowed on Rossini's overtures was exaggerated. To prove that he could do it, and quickly, the twenty-year-old Schubert wrote two delightful overtures "in Italian style", of which the one in D major in particular immediately gained great popularity.
As a young Hungarian composer, György Ligeti often based himself on traditional folk music. After his country was first overrun by the Nazis and then annexed by the Soviet Union, he decided to write more radical music as a protest. The Concert Românesc is a transitional work. Romanian folk music was the inspiration for the first three movements - first radiant, then stirring, sometimes mysterious. In the last part we catch a glimpse of the later bold and caricatural Ligeti.