In case of rain the concert will be held on 14th July, Sunday
The opening concert for this year’s Beethoven events is full of contrasts and surprises. The high opus number of the concert aria Ah! perfido to be performed at the start of the evening is somewhat misleading. Beethoven actually composed this multi-section, sometimes bravura piece when he was 26. It will be performed by Ildikó Szakács, the soprano singer of the Hungarian State Opera. Behind the energy and unabashed happiness of the joyful music of Symphony No. 4 – which Schumann described as a slender Greek girl between two northern giants – lies Beethoven’s ardent love for the widow Josephine Brunszvik. The individual movements are built on the struggle between the duality of light and shadow, melody and rhythm and the harsh chords. The second half of the concert will see a performance of one of Beethoven’s most groundbreaking works, featuring pianist Fülöp Ránki and the Hungarian National Choir, conducted by Csaba Somos. The work was intended as a bravura closing piece for Beethoven’s 1808 benefit concert for composers. A seemingly improvisational piano solo – the composer did actually improvise during the premiere – is followed by a dialogue between piano and orchestra, before the choir then enters the fray. The musical material for the last section of the piece is a modified version of the theme to Gegenliebe (WoO 118), composed in 1794-95 and a melodic cousin of Ode to Joy. For this reason and also for the similarities in form, the Choral Fantasy is often known as the Little Ninth.