With four opera productions and its concert cycle, the Vienna Philharmonic once again forms the centre of the Salzburg Festival. This year, its concerts bring the musicians not only to the Grosses Festspielhaus, where they will be heard under the baton of four of the most important conductors of our times, but – with smaller forces – also to the Main Auditorium of the Mozarteum.
The work which opens the series of the Philharmonic’s concerts also builds a bridge to the Ouverture spirituelle: Valery Gergiev conducts Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, a work that is as unusual as it is haunting, setting three psalms from the Old Testament to music. The rest of the programme is also Russian: Modest Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death will be performed in a version for high voice, with the Russian tenor Sergei Semishkur. The programme closes with Sergey Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5.
The concerts conducted by Mariss Jansons are dedicated to the second half of the 19th century: even in his early work Don Juan, based on a poem by Nikolaus Lenau, the 24-year-old Richard Strauss proved his full mastery of the genre of the symphonic poem. This will be juxtaposed with the First Symphony by one of the most prominent protagonists of absolute music, Johannes Brahms. In between, the audience is treated to Richard Wagner’s Wesendonck-Lieder, steeped in the atmosphere of his Tristan, performed by the outstanding Swedish soprano Nina Stemme.
Riccardo Muti devotes himself to Franz Liszt’s symphonic poems Les Préludes and Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe as well as the Messe solennelle by Hector Berlioz, who was only 20 years old at the time of its writing: although he had claimed to have destroyed the work, except for one movement, a copy of the score was discovered in 1992.
The great Bernard Haitink returns to Salzburg with two musical milestones. Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 also gives us the pleasure of hearing the American pianist Murray Perahia, who won the Honorary Award of the German Record Critics in 2011. The second part of the concert will feature Bruckner’s unfinished Symphony No. 9.
The concert programme of the Vienna Philharmonic on August 21 promises to be a very special event, for here, the orchestra presents itself in a chamber version: between Alban Berg’s Kammerkonzert and Mozart’s Gran Partita, which covers a broad spectrum of expressivity, a Salzburg Festival commission will have its world premiere: the composer is Heinz Holliger, who also conducts the entire concert.