The British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor and the French-born conductor Nathalie Stutzmann are in the spotlight for this Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert broadcast on WRTI 90.1 on April 7th from 1 to 3 PM.
With parallel careers as a world-renowned contralto and rising star conductor, Ms. Stutzmann makes her Philadelphia Orchestra conducting debut with Sunday’s performances, and pianist Benjamin Grosvenor makes his Philadelphia Orchestra debut as the soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
The concert begins with Haydn, whose music was already popular in England when Johann Peter Salomon asked the great composer to come to London for two seasons, live there, and compose a total of six symphonies to be performed there. The Symphony No. 94 in G Major was one of those symphonies, debuting there in 1791. Known as “The Surprise,” the symphony is actually full of surprises, showcasing Haydn's wit and ability to play with audiences' expectations. It’s also full of some very demanding technical sections that reveal Haydn's confidence in the London orchestra for which he was writing.
Haydn’s 94th Symphony was one of the works that helped the four-movement symphony become the standard that would define orchestral music for generations.
There are distinct Mozartean and Haydnesque moments in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, particularly in the quiet, strings-only introduction to the opening Allegro con brio. But with the entrance of the orchestra, complete with brass and timpani, the music takes on a more martial character and a distinctive vigor peculiar to Beethoven's style. So typical of much of Beethoven's music of the period, it’s full of high spirits, rhythmic syncopations, and irregular phrasings -- a spirit of both boldness and mischief by the young Beethoven!
Concluding the concert is Beethoven’s 4th Symphony, a gem of a symphony that gets too little respect! Considered by many to be an intermediary symphony between Symphony No. 3 and Symphony No. 5, it is, nevertheless, fresh, spontaneous, and perfectly structured. Robert Schumann compared it to "a supple Grecian maiden,” standing between two Nordic giants, and Mendelssohn chose it to be performed at his first concert at the Leipzig Gewandhaus.
During intermission, WRTI's Debra Lew Harder speaks backstage with Benjamin Grosvenor, and Bliss Michelson has a talk with Natalie Stutzmann.
Be sure to plan on spending an enjoyable two hours with Haydn and Beethoven, only on WRTI 90.1, and streaming at wrti.org!
Haydn – Symphony No. 94 (“Surprise")
Beethoven – Piano Concerto No.1
Benjamin Grosvenor, piano
Beethoven – Symphony No. 4
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Nathalie Stutzmann, conductor
Gregg Whiteside is producer and host of The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts, every Sunday at 1 pm on WRTI 90.1, streaming online at WRTI.org, and on the WRTI mobile app! Listen again on Mondays at 7 pm on WRTI HD-2.