Barry Douglas Piano and Musical conductor
2020 is the year of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in Bonn in 1770, making him the exact contemporary of the Royal Opera of Versailles! If a composer was the embodiment of the musical revolution that took place at the turn of the 19th century, and the passage from classicism to romanticism, it would undoubtedly be Beethoven who reached maturity in 1800. Beethoven, heir to Haydn, Mozart and Gluck is both the last prodigy of classicism and the composer who opened the way to new freedom in music. His staunch independence led him on an atypical path, influenced by the progressive ideas of the French Revolution and Bonaparte’s epic, before rejecting all despotism and devoting himself to the exaltation of the sublime, as expressed in his Symphony No. 9. A pivotal musician, cruelly struck by deafness at the age of thirty, he leaves a work of unimaginable power, a true song of the human soul, and one that is universally recognised.
The five concertos for piano and orchestra
The concerto for keyboard and orchestra form invented by Bach evolved over the 18th century to reach a first stage of maturity with compositions by Mozart who gave it poetical adagios and brilliant finales, also making them longer, to turn them into true concert pieces. Beethoven, a virtuoso pianist himself, took this path initially but soon abandoned gracious traits to confront a more powerful piano (the Viennese makers had designed louder pianofortes, better adapted to large concert halls) to an also larger orchestra. Over a period of fifteen years (1795-1809), he created a cycle of five concertos: in the two first ones the pianist and orchestra musicians rival in virtuosity, colours and heady poetry, while still encased in the classic Viennese form; the third and fourth concertos reach a new scale, with the piano as the composer’s sovereign interpreter, dialoguing with a mature orchestra. Completion is reached with the last concerto, the fifth, known as the “Emperor”, a tribute to the splendour of the work and not to Napoleon, who was then (1809) at Vienna’s gates and cannoning Beethoven’s city – but the bellicose atmosphere is there! Beethoven’s cycle of five concerto occupies an exceptional place in the history of music, with the central role given to the piano, its musical impact and formidable technique becoming self-evident in romanticism; it is also considered one of the Beethovenian monuments – hardly any other composer has produced such a significant body of work after him…
The virtuoso pianist, Barry Douglas will interpret the five concertos conducting his brilliant Camerata Ireland from the piano – such is the Beethovenian communion between his musicians, nurtured by their complicity over two decades at the highest level!
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)
Concerto for piano and orchestra No. 2 in B flat major
Concerto for piano and orchestra No. 1 in C major
Concerto for piano and orchestra No. 4 in G major
The next day, attend the performance of Concertos for piano and orchestra n ° 3 and 5 → more information.
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