Ladies and Gentleman,
due to reasons beyond the Warsaw Philharmonic, Garrick Ohlsson will not perform in the symphonic concerts on 21 and 23 April 21 2023.
The soloist of these evenings will be another excellent pianist, Marc-André Hamelin, who will present Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 by Johannes Brahms.
Other pieces in the programme and performers remain unchanged.
The first part of today’s concert will be devoted to two works featuring the symbolic motif of Salome – the Jewish princess described in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, who has been the subject of an incredible number of literary and painterly incarnations over the centuries. Artists have been captivated by the peculiar combination of love, ecstasy, perversion, guilt and the desire for redemption conveyed in the biblical story, in which the princess demands from Herod the head of the prophet John the Baptist on a silver platter. And when her stepfather grants her wish, she kisses the dead prophet’s blue lips. The story became the subject of a pioneering drama by Oscar Wilde (1892), and was adapted for the opera stage by Antoine Mariotte, among others.
The idea of making a musical adaptation of Wilde’s play was also taken up by Richard Strauss in his avant-garde opera Salome, which had its premiere in 1905 at the Dresden Opera House. The focus of the work’s only major orchestral section, added later by the composer – Dance of the Seven Veils – is the princess’ seductive dance, designed to persuade Herod to offer her the head of the dead Jokanaan. The eroticism of the piece is expressed in the sensual lavishness of the sound and texture of the huge orchestra, the quasi-oriental embellishment of the melody (the composer’s hints at the “exotic” carnality of the music) and the use of crescendo and accelerando (suggesting growing arousal).
The French post-impressionist composer Florent Schmitt – one of the leading figures of French musical life in the first half of the 20th century – was also drawn to the Salome motif. In his clearly symbolist piece, the sea (on the shore of which Salome and Herod’s castle is located in Robert d’Humieres’ libretto) serves as a “magic mirror”, and the music and drama are employed to “illustrate a demonic phantasmagoria”, full of syncopations in the rhythmic layer, polyrhythm, percussively treated chords and bitonality.
The evening will culminate with Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15, which is the first example of his mature symphonic style used for this form. Inspired by Robert Schumann’s attempted suicide (1854), the piece features an expansive, dramatic and elegiac first movement (Maestoso), an Adagio with the consolatory phrase Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini that the composer wrote into the score, and an energetic final variation rondo, alluding in its counterpoint to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, whom Brahms greatly admired.