Thu, 16. 5. 2019, 7.00 p.m.
B7 THE ARTISTRY OF THE RICHARDS
Richard Wagner: Tristan and Isolde, overture
Richard Strauss: Lieder - a selection
Richard Strauss: Thus Spake Zarathustra, Op. 30
Soloist: Jana Kurucová, mezzo-soprano
BOHUSLAV MARTINŮ PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
Conductor: Tomáš Brauner
Our final Subscription Series B concert showcases the work of two of the geniuses of German music - Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. The legacy of Wagner, whose leading works represented a synthesis of all forms of art, had a striking influence on composers not only in Germany, but beyond. Indeed, his tragic opera Tristan and Isolde is one of the milestones of European musical history. The work, written in 1857–59, is based on the original French Middle Ages legend about the hopeless love of the knight Tristan for Isolde, betrothed to King Mark. It is strongly influenced by Arthur Schopenhauer's philosophy that the most ardent desire of the two lovers is death. The work stands out for its enormous emotional passion which Wagner intensified by his extravagant use of chromatics, unusual instrumentation, characteristic use of motifs and innovative harmony which paved the way for the whole of 19th and 20th century modern European music. The Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra performs the unique and highly charged overture to the opera, out of whose sombre atmosphere shines a strong yearning tinged with the painful foreboding of futility and lack of fulfilment.
Richard Strauss ranks as one of the founding members of the generation of European musical modernism. He was also a conductor, however, and interestingly it was for a performance of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde that he wielded the conductor's baton for the very first time. In his work Strauss combined technical virtuosity with impressive melodic invention, imaginative harmonies and masterful instrumentation. Among his compositions are some 150 'lieder', a selection of which we will hear performed by the leading Slovak mezzo-soprano Jana Kurucová. The composer's best known works also include the symphonic poem 'Thus Spake Zarathustra' after the eponymous work by Friedrich Nietzsche. This piece scored for large orchestra has become enormously popular owing mainly to its introduction, now one of the best known passages in the history of symphonic classical music.