Watch Friday, August 28, 2015 at 9pm on WMHT TV.
Led by guest conductor Zubin Mehta, the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic returns for its 12th open-air concert, this time with a distinctly Scandinavian flavor, in the magnificent gardens of Austria’s Imperial Schönbrunn Palace.
Mehta first conducted the concert in 2005, and earlier this year he was again leading the orchestra on From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2015 also seen on Great Performances.
The concert soloist on this occasion is the internationally acclaimed Austrian piano virtuoso Rudolf Buckbinder.
This free outdoor concert, recorded in May, allows the distinguished orchestra to make classical music accessible to establish a following beyond its usual core audience. The annual event is produced by the ORF, and transmitted live or delayed in more than 80 countries worldwide.
In past years, the concert has been conducted by Bobby McFerrin (2004), Zubin Mehta (2005), Plácido Domingo (2006), Valery Gergiev (2007 & 2011), Georges Prêtre (2008), Daniel Barenboim (in 2009 when Great Performances first began airing the concerts on PBS), Franz Welser-Möst (2010), Gustavo Dudamel (2012), Lorin Maazel (2013) and Christoph Eschenbach (2014).
The Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder plays Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, which was first performed in Copenhagen in 1868. That famous work is followed by the piano piece Soirée de Vienne (inspired by the waltzes of Johann Strauss) by the pianist and composer Alfred Grünfeld, who was born in Vienna in 1852.
A piece by Christian Sinding, one of Grieg’s contemporaries, follows. His songs and symphonies have been largely forgotten, but his 1896 Rustle of Spring endures.
Also from Grieg is one of the suites taken from the incidental music he composed for Ibsen’s classic play “Peer Gynt.”
The Swedish-Finnish composer Jean Sibelius helped strengthen Finland’s independence movement through his music. His symphonic poem Finlandia, which dates back to 1900, was used from the beginning as the ‘secret Finnish anthem’ and was so popular that it was even banned by the Russians.
The concert ends as it does every year with a performance of the great Viennese waltz Wiener Blut by Johann Strauss II. But the penultimate piece is the Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop by Danish composer Hans Christian Lumbye who was so in awe of Johann Strauss Sr. that he began to compose in his style, earning him the title “The Strauss of the North.”
The full musical program is as follows:
Wiener Philharmoniker Fanfare op. 109
Piano Concerto in A minor, op. 16 (Buchbinder soloist)
Soirée de Vienne (Buchbinder)
Rustle of Spring, op. 32, Nr. 3
Peer-Gynt-Suite Nr. 1, op. 46
Finlandia, Tondichtung op. 26/7
Hans Christian Lumbye
Copenhagener Eisenbahn Dampf Galopp
Johann Strauss II
Wiener Blut, “Viennese Spirit” Waltz