»Chant funèbre« op. 5 (1908)
Horn Concerto No. 2 E flat Major (1942)
A sensation: at the library of the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 2015, a staff member encountered a set of orchestral parts within a convolute of dusty sheet music. It soon became clear that this was Igor Stravinsky’s »Chant funèbre«. The work, composed in 1908 by the 26-year-old Stravinsky upon the death of his teacher Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, had been considered lost. In Cologne, the funeral chant for orchestra, a sombre epitaph imbued with the spirit of late romanticism, has never been heard before: the Gürzenich Orchestra celebrates its rediscovery.
Stravinsky, the chameleon, the jester balancing between styles, struck a completely different note in the ballet »Petroushka«, written only three years later. After the enormous success of »The Firebird«, Sergei Diaghilev, the mighty impresario of the Ballets Russes, commissioned another ballet score from Stravinsky. With colourful fairground imagery, he created a virtuoso grotesque featuring the wooden protagonists of a puppet theatre brought to life by the power of music. – The sound of the horn fascinated Richard Strauss throughout his life. He was well familiar with the instrument and its potential since his earliest childhood, as his father was a horn player in Munich’s Court Opera Orchestra. The Horn Concerto No. 1 was written for him, a stroke of genius of the 18-year-old composer. The Horn Concerto No. 2, on the other hand, offers a full-blooded premonition of Strauss’ swan song, his »Vier letzte Lieder« - and perhaps a late attempt at overcoming a father complex?