The Sala Mozart of the Auditorio de Zaragoza will host tomorrow, Wednesday, April 20, an innovative concert by the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, conducted by the exceptional Finnish conductor and percussionist Santtu-Matias Rouvali, and which includes the participation of violinist Nicola Benedetti, who will star in the first part of the program with Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61.
Founded in 1945, the Philharmonia Orchestra has pioneered the use of the latest technologies to reach a wider audience. During the Coronavirus pandemic, it has continued to create outstanding performances, enjoyed online by audiences on five continents. Throughout its history, it has toured Europe, Asia and the Americas. Its most recent work includes a 2020 residency at the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre, as well as tours to the Canary Islands, the United States and Colombia. It is comprised of a team of 80 world-class musicians from 16 countries.
In May 2019, Santtu-Matias Rouvali was appointed chief conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra, of which he was principal guest conductor until that time, while retaining his posts as chief conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony and Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra.
Tomorrow’s concert will also feature Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti, who in 2017 received the Queens Medal for Music (Queen’s Medal), for her influence on musical life in the UK. In 2020, she won the Grammy in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category, and became the first classical violinist in 10 years to play at the Grammy gala. As of 2012, Benedetti plays on a 1717 Stradivarius named “Gariel.”
Among Beethoven’s entire output we find only one violin concerto. It is said that his composition, dedicated to the virtuoso Franz Clement, was somewhat rushed due to deadlines and the violinist went on stage with an original score full of annotations and corrections that he had to sort through intuitively. Although the public reception was good, the work was incomprehensibly overlooked until, decades later, a young Josef Joachim rehabilitated the score with Mendelssohn’s supervision and it began to be performed assiduously. Today the Violin Concerto in D Major, op.61 is a must in the instrument’s repertoire and on this occasion we will enjoy it in a performance by Scotland’s Nicola Benedetti with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Conducted by Santtu-Matias Rouvali, the ensemble will close the program with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.
The first performance of this symphony took place in St. Petersburg on November 17, 1888, conducted by the composer himself. The public’s reception was favorable, but the press did not share this enthusiasm at all, so much so that Tchaikovsky himself, as was usual for him, came to doubt the quality of the score (“too confused, too compact, lacking in sincerity…” he writes in a letter to his benefactress, Nadezhda von Meck). Fortunately, during a performance in Hamburg in 1889, the symphony finally enjoyed the immense success it deserves. Today it is one of Tchaikovsky’s most popular works.
The fifth symphony is the only one of Tchaikovsky’s six symphonies to have a recurring cyclical theme in each of the four movements, symbolizing “providence”.