Dvořák 6 & Beatrice Rana plays Mozart
Antonín Dvořák, Othello Overture, Op. 93, B. 174
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466
Antonín Dvořák, Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60, B. 112
The Othello overture is the last of three concert overtures written by the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák in the early 1890s. While In Nature’s Realm and the Carnival Overture describe nature and life, the Othello overture deals with love. Inspired by Shakespeare’s tragedy, Dvořák depicts how man can ruin what nature and life have given him. A dark main theme (Othello) is juxtaposed in the exposition with a group of lyrical secondary themes (Desdemona). After kissing in ‘bliss’, Othello loses control and kills his wife in the exposition. After a moment of introspection, the overture comes to an even more tumultuous end with Othello’s suicide.
The young Italian pianist Beatrice Rana then performs Mozart’s Twentieth Piano Concerto, written in the sombre key of D minor. The first movement of this incredibly beautiful, yet fateful composition is particularly dramatic. The same ominous mood is found in the Overture to Don Giovanni and the Requiem – both also written in the key of D minor. The second movement, a romance, offers relief and allows the world to be bathed in a beautiful light again. With its extreme dynamics and incredible momentum leading to a radiant ending in D major, the last movement is almost Beethovenian.
Anti-Czech sentiment prevented the premiere of Antonín Dvořák’s Sixth Symphony in Vienna, although it was written for Hans Richter, principal conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic. Within a few years, growing nationalism had transformed Dvořák from an acculturated German into a Czech who was too much competition for the Germanic culture prevalent in Vienna. However, after a very successful premiere in Prague, Dvořák’s Sixth Symphony quickly gained popularity in the rest of Europe. Many were charmed by the balanced blend of Liszt and Wagner’s modernism, Brahms’ conservatism and many Czech folk elements (such as the use of a Bohemian dance, the furiant, in the third movement).
Michael Schønwandt, conductor
Beatrice Rana, piano