A Night of Music by Wagner and R. Strauss

February 7, 2023 | Tchaikovsky Concert Hall
Subscription Series No. 71: “National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia”
Soloist – Anna Aglatova, soprano
Conductor – Dimitris Botinis
Wagner. "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg" – Overture
R. Strauss. "Vier letzte Lieder" ("Four Last Songs")
Wagner. "Tristan und Isolde" – Prelude and Liebestod
R. Strauss. "Der Rosenkavalier" – Suite


The concert programme of the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia under the baton of Dimitris Botinis brings together two great Richards – Wagner and Strauss, both the authors of superb musical dramas and the masters of orchestra. The latter's style was much influenced by the former's: Strauss had grown up with Wagner's operas and, regarding himself as a follower of great German composers such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Wagner, said: “I am the last mountain in the great ridge”.

The audience of the Tchaikovsky Hall will hear excerpts from Wagner's operas “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” and “Tristan und Isolde”. The former is rather an exception in the range of Wagner's music dramas: its plot does not refer to the German-Scandinavian mythology but tells about a contest of vocal improvisation in the real Bavarian town of the 16th century and rises the questions of sources of inspiration and measures of mastership as well as of the interrelations between a progressive artist and a conservative critic. From its premiere to nowadays the overture to the “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” sounds as a genuine anthem to arts.

The “Tristan und Isolde” opera, whose story goes down to a legend from the King Arthur Cycle, was defined by the author as “a monument to the deepest unshared love” with a hint to his flaming passion for Mathilde Wesendonck, the wife of a rich merchant. In the Introduction to the opera, which delineates all its evolvement, the theme of languor is predominant and passes through the whole opus. It blossoms in the scene of Isolde's death who is dreaming of her beloved one in the last instants of her life...

The comic opera “Der Rosenkavalier” to the libretto of Hugo von Hofmannsthal was first conceived, as Strauss himself admitted, with having in mind operas by Mozart, mainly “Le nozze di Figaro”. However finally the opus went out of the frames of a light comedy and acquired a philosophical aspect despite the abundance of waltzes in the score. With time the composer concocted several concert suites from the most popular fragments. Totally different in mood is the music of the vocal cycle “Vier letzte Lieder” to the verses by Joseph von Eichendorff and Hermann Hesse, written a year before the composer's death with the sense of a near end. The star of the Bolshoi Anna Aglatova will also take part in the concert.


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