Daniel Harding is not only a gifted artist but clearly a bold one, too. When he was just 17, he put together a group of musicians, made a recording of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaireand sent it to Sir Simon Rattle for his opinion. Sir Simon then spontaneously took on this promising conductor as his assistant at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He was later Claudio Abbado’s assistant at the Berliner Philharmoniker, making his conducting debut with the orchestra in 1996.
In this concert, Harding and Janine Jansen perform Benjamin Britten’s Violin Concerto – one of those works which makes you ask why it is not heard in the concert hall more often. Jansen is one of the work’s most passionate champions of the concert described by Jascha Heifatz as “unplayable” and underlines here its outstanding qualities: its demonic virtuosity, refined textures and captivating atmosphere. In the words of one critic, “She maintains the passionate tone right through to the very end, molto espressivo, forming the arduous ups and downs of the trajectory of the three movements from one single fervent breath”.
The concert opens with Bartók’s Divertimento for Strings: a rare case of a classical composition from the 20th century, whose intention, according to its title, is above all to entertain. Richard Strauss’s tone poem Tod und Verklärung, on the other hand, conjures up a life’s end but without metaphysical reserve, taking a worldly pleasure in luscious sound and ecstatic climaxes.
17 Oct 2009
Divertimento for string orchestra, Sz 113 (30 min.)
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, op. 15 (36 min.)
Janine Jansen Violin
Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration), op. 24 (30 min.)
Janine Jansen and Daniel Harding in conversation with Sarah Willis (21 min.)