The first piece to be played at the concert is Prières nocturnes (Evening Prayers) by Ádám Brandenburg. The young composer is considered an outstanding talent of his generation. He is active in several musical genres: apart from concert music, he has been engaged with theatre and pop music and has composed movie soundtracks as well. Apart from his creative work, he teaches and does scholarly work, too. Of a peculiar tone, Prières nocturnes has already won many awards, among them “Junior classical composer of the year” by Artisjus. This is what the author says about his work, “I wrote my first orchestra piece in 2017 with the intention of illustrating the impressions and experiences of different night prayers through music. I found the apparatus of a symphonic orchestra suitable for creating possibly the most interesting colours and musical textures in order to depict this sacral topic. This piece is an example of programme music that is very difficult to interpret, with a form that covers a linear journey between the different states of mind, dividing into three main units. I believe that the thematic of the sacred that is very important to me has successfully been embodied in music.”
Wotan’s Farewell and Magic Fire is a real opera hit song, not only for Wagner fans but among a much greater company of opera lovers. In the last scene of Wagner’s opera The Valkyrie Wotan is taking farewell from his daughter Brünnhilde who had turned against her father and thus deserves punishment. The father puts his daughter to sleep, surrounded and protected by a circle of fire. He invokes the demigod of fire, Loge to create a circle of perpetual fire around her. This magnificent scene is one of the excellent examples of the depiction of fire in the history of music that has even inspired some 21st century film score composers.
The numbering of Schumann’s four symphonies does not refer to the chronology of their writing but their publication in print – his Symphony No. 3, “Rhenish” is actually the last of the composer’s works in this genre. Having gone through a deep emotional and creative crisis in the previous years, the now 40-year-old composer is starting a positive phase in his life, shortly after accepting and taking up the music director’s position offered to him by the city of Düsseldorf in September 1850. As opposed to the classic symphony structure, this work has five movements instead of four, as Schumann inserted one (that was probably inspired by the Cologne Cathedral) between the third slow movement and the finale. (This is where the trombones first make a first appearance, sounding the choral-esque melody of the solemn movement composed in E-flat minor.) Although the composer rejected the earlier description of his work as “a piece of life on the Rhine” and as programme music, the nickname “Rhenish” was given to it and in fact, listening to the surging, joyous music of the first movement does make the listener associate an image of nature with it. The second movement has “Scherzo” as an indication but with its somewhat tempered rhythm it shows no resemblance whatsoever with the usual symphony scherzos, and elements of the three-part and the variation theme are mixed in it. The tenderly lyrical third movement is followed by the archaic style fourth written in E-flat minor, and closed by a graceful, dance like finale bringing back the lively tempo and blissfully happy, serene tone of the opening movement.