GÜRZENICH-ORCHESTER KÖLN – BRAHMS / BARTÓK / ILLÉS – CANCELLED
Kirill Gerstein, Piano
François-Xavier Roth, Conductor
BRAHMS, Piano concerto No. 1 in D-minor (1854-57)
BARTÓK, Divertimento for String Orchestra (1939)
ILLÉS, New Work – World Premiere. Commissioned by the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne
The First Piano Concerto by Johannes Brahms, for which pianist Kirill Gerstein returns to the Gürzenich Orchestra as a guest soloist, truly breaks formal boundaries: with this 45-minute colossus of a work, the 21-year-old composer was miles ahead of his contemporary audience’s tastes. Brahms always had a weakness for Hungarian music. Márton Illés soaked up the sound of the Hungarian language and music from his earliest childhood: its rough rhythms and mellifluous lines are reflected in this composer’s output in all their fantastic colourfulness. His new orchestral piece is conceived as a companion for the Divertimento for Strings which Béla Bartók composed in Switzerland in 1939, as a world war loomed ahead: idyllic scenes, retrospection and the threat of catastrophe form an intimidating mixture here, barely held together by classical form. François-Xavier Roth searches for the shared roots of the works on this high-contrast programme.