Bruckner's symphonies in their original sound
Although Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major, to which Anton Bruckner himself gave the title Romantic, thus formally inviting an illustrative understanding of the music, is one of his most frequently performed works, this does not apply to its original version, composed in 1874 and revised in 1876, whose enormous technical demands stood in the way of its dissemination from the very beginning. As the last of all Bruckner symphonies, the "1874 version" of the Fourth did not receive its premiere until 20 September 1975. The premiere took place in the Brucknerhaus Linz on 20 September 1975.
The symphony is preceded by two other works whose aim, already stated in the title, is to paint romantic moods in transfiguring tones. The prelude is the Ouverture romantique by Béla Kéler, who, like Bruckner and probably at the same time as him in 1855/56, was a pupil of Simon Sechter in Vienna and specialised in the production of dances and marches. Kéler's Mazzuchelli March was long erroneously attributed to Bruckner as the Apollo March and even included in his catalogue of works, although it only served as a model in the composition of Bruckner's own March in E flat major for military music. Finally, Benjamin Godard's Concerto romantique takes the theme from the perspective of the French virtuoso concerto and was, perhaps for that very reason, extremely popular in its day.
Under the baton of star conductor Kent Nagano, Concerto Köln, which has been one of the top ensembles of historical performance practice for almost 40 years and whose concertmaster Shunske Sato is also the soloist in the violin concerto, explores the question of what the buzzword "romantic" meant musically in the 1870s and will introduce the audience to the entire tonal spectrum of the romantic on the basis of three examples.
Béla Kéler (1820–1882)
Ouverture romantique for orchestra, op. 75 (1872)
Benjamin Godard (1849–1895)
Concerto romantique for violin and orchestra in A minor, op. 35 (1876)
– Intermission –
Anton Bruckner (1824–1896)
Symphony No. 4 ("Romantic") in E-flat major, WAB 104 (1874, 1876) „Fassung 1874“
Shunske Sato | violin
Kent Nagano | conductor