Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet (1953)
Mucis for Strings, Percussion and Celeste (1936)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major (1881)
Emanuel Ax will pull off a feat of strength at his first solo performance as Artist in Residence, together with François-Xavier Roth: to this day, Johannes Brahms’s 2nd Piano Concerto is considered a litmus test for pianists in terms of stamina, the ability to structure and ensemble playing. Conceptually, it does not place the soloist in front of the orchestra as antagonist, but rather as partner, right at its heart. Together they sing, battle, rejoice, and even dance in the final Rondo – and that to melodies “all’ongharese”. Which builds a bridge to the “genuine” Hungarians on the programme, namely Béla Bartók and György Ligeti. They compose for only part of the orchestral instrumentation with which Brahms shades and nuances so masterfully in his piano concerto: Bartók does not deploy winds or brass in his Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste, while they glitteringly take centre stage in Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles.