Watch Friday, September 30, 2016 at 9pm on WMHT-TV
Led by guest conductor Semyon Bychkov for the very first time, the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic returns for its 13th open-air concert, with a program of French orchestral classics, in the magnificent gardens of Austria’s Imperial Schönbrunn Palace.
The concert soloists on this occasion will be the renowned French piano duo Katia and Marielle Labèque, the latter wife of maestro Bychkov.
From the ‘Farandole,’ a rousing dance from George Bizet’s ‘L’Arlésienne Suite’ to the evening’s one non-Gallic offering, the traditional encore of Johann Strauss II’s ever-popular “Wiener Blut,” the concert is a sure-fire mix of crowd-pleasers.
Francis Poulenc’s 1932 “Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in D Minor” – with its homage to Mozart and Asian music -- gives the Labèque sisters a fine opportunity to demonstrate their virtuosity. Maurice Ravel’s ever-popular “Boléro” is said to have prompted its composer to remark sardonically, “I have only written one masterpiece – the bolero. Unfortunately, there’s no music in it!” referring to the piece’s stunning rhythmicity. Offenbach’s effervescent cancan music from his operetta “Orpheus in the Underworld” is the first of two encores.
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 and 2015), 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 Russian-born Bychkov left the country when he was 20 for political reasons, and his rapid career success led him into all of the important opera houses and concert halls as a young man.
The full musical program is as follows:
Farandole from L’Arlésienne, Suite No. 2;
Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in D Minor, FP 61
Boléro, Ballet for Orchestra
Infernal Galop from Orpheus in the Underworld
Johann Strauss II
Wiener Blut, waltz.