Beethoven wrote his Fourth Symphony in 1806 – the same year in which the world also heard his Fourth Piano Concerto, Razumovsky quartets and Violin Concerto. After completing ‘Eroica’, the composer set about writing his Fifth, but he broke off work on that monumental composition, and his summer holiday in Upper Silesia gave rise to a symphony that embodied the ideal of sérénité, closer in a sense to the spirit of Haydn and Mozart. The Fourth is an unerringly delightful moment of symphonic respite between its mighty neighbours.
The First Concerto for Horn and Orchestra by the 19-year-old Richard Strauss, the son of a distinguished French horn player, is one of the young composer’s first works for a solo instrument, and it immediately found a place in the French horn repertoire, at the same time attesting to the development of the composition technique and musical language of the future composer of the Alpine Symphony.
The ‘quasi-Classical’ programme of this concert led by Paul Goodwin is completed by an orchestral suite from Jean-Philippe Rameau’s last music tragedy, Les Boréades, from 1763. Due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, this work had to wait more than 200 years for its first performance. The eighteenth-century score displays beguilingly subtle orchestration, charming dance rhythms and tone painting that is discernible to contemporary listeners as well.