Gala concert at the opening of the season

Sept. 9, 2018
1 p.m.
Kölner Philharmonie

Johannes Brahms

Variations for Orchestra on a Theme by J. Haydn B-flat major op. 56a (1873)

Édouard Lalo

Cello Concerto in D minor op. 33 (1877)

Max Reger

Variation and Fugue on a Theme by J. A. Hiller op. 100 (1907)

When they were handing out humour, Max Reger once disclosed about himself, he called out “Here!” twice. That the title page of his weighty opus 100 in its first edition emphasises that these are “Variations and Fugue on a Funny Theme by Hiller” should not mislead us, however: Reger’s massive orchestral piece soon leaves its motivic roots in a Singspiel far behind, inviting listeners to embark on a fascinating journey through the epochs, from chiselled Baroque to the rampant splendour of the fin de siècle. At the gala concert, Francois-Xavier Roth will commemorate the Gürzenich Orchestra’s 1907 premiere of Reger’s Opus 100, inviting you to rediscover a large, ingeniously orchestrated work that the conductor Fritz Busch rightly considered “among the most beautiful musical pieces ever written, perhaps the greatest set of variations composed since Beethoven.” He seems, however, to have omitted the Variations on Joseph Haydn composed by Johannes Brahms, where a bravura piece for the entire orchestra also grows out of a simple original. Édouard Lalo’s Cello Concerto provides a lyrical and dramatic contrast – a captivating, rhapsodic composition from the instrument’s core repertoire, performed by Bonian Tian, principal cellist of the Gürzenich Orchestra.

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