This year's Beethovenfest got off to a start with Rimsky-Korsakov, Wagner and of course Beethoven – in a concert that reflects the festival motto "Distant Loved One."
Ludwig van Beethoven, who wrote the song cycle "An die ferne Geliebte" (To the Distant Loved One), was no stranger to the concept of unattainable love, as his own life experience indicates.
Wagner's "Lohengrin" is about the same subject – a longing for love which, when it becomes concrete, is doomed to failure.
The prince in Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade," once betrayed in love, takes lethal revenge on every woman he comes into contact with – until he meets the clever Scheherazade, who manages to keep him distracted night after night with her exciting storytelling. The composition is based on the Arabian fairy tale "1001 Nacht" and ends happily.
The encore is both familiar and unfamiliar. Many music lovers will recognize Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" in the most often-performed version, as orchestrated by Maurice Ravel. The orchestration by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, featured here, is rarely heard, and perhaps for that reason strangely exotic.
Prelude to Act One of the opera "Lohengrin"
Scheherazade, orchestral suite op. 35
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major, op. 60
"The Great Gate of Kyiv" from "Pictures at an Exhibition," orchestrated by Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov (encore)
Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra
Valery Gergiev, conductor
Recorded by West German Radio Cologne (WDR) in the World Conference Center Bonn am September 9, 2017