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Get a taste of Vienna when native son Manfred Honeck conducts two masterworks from the Imperial City. It was 1781 when Mozart defied his father and relocated to Vienna, a place that today boasts of being “the capital of classical music.” For Mozart, the locals proved to be an eager audience, dazzled by his singular skills at the piano. Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22 plays like a theater piece, pitting the grandeur of the orchestra against the nuanced personality of the solo piano—in these performances, singularly tackled by superb Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes.
Anton Bruckner waited until he was 44 to make the leap to Vienna where he crafted cathedral-like architectures in music. Unfortunately for him, the Viennese critics complained that he was beyond comprehension. Today, audiences love him for it.
All sound clips are from San Francisco Symphony performances and are used with permission of the SFS Players Committee.
Bruckner Symphony No. 4
Piano Concerto No. 22, K.482 1785 | 34 mins
When Mozart established himself in Vienna in the early 1780s, he hoped to make a name for himself as a composer and as a pianist. This elegant piano concerto proves he was supremely equipped to do both. While filled with ornate writing, the music maintains a natural sense of poise and positively glows with rich woodwind colors. Fun fact: This was the first Mozart piano concerto to include clarinets in its orchestration. Listeners might also detect traces of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (composed soon after). That peerless opera—and particularly the role of the Countess Almaviva—comes often to mind as we listen to this concerto, so gorgeous in its veneer, subtle in its drama, sincere in its expression, and dignified in its bearing. Read More—from notes by James M. Keller
Symphony No. 4, Romantic 1874/1880 | 65 mins
Although he was not essentially a Romantic composer—not, at least, in the sense that such figures as Weber, Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Wagner embodied the ideals of the aesthetic movement called Romanticism—Bruckner’s Romantic Symphony does evoke German Romanticism in its allusions to the hunt and, by extension, in its brilliant spotlighting of the instruments most associated with that pursuit, the horns. Quite a few years after he composed his Fourth Symphony, Bruckner penned a scenario for this symphony (although it seems more likely to be an afterthought crafted to justify the subtitle rather than a “plot” that inspired him during composition). In it he described the first movement as a “medieval city—dawn”; the second as a “rustic love-scene,” in which “a peasant boy woos his sweetheart, but she scorns him”; the third as “The Hunting of the Hare,” and a “Dance Melody During the Huntsmen’s Meal”; and the fourth as a “Folk Festival.” Read More—from notes by James M. Keller