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WRTI Spotlight

The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert on WRTI: Haydn, Beethoven, and a Young British Pianist

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Patrick Allen - Opera Omnia
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Benjamin Grosvenor

The British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor and the French-born conductor Nathalie Stutzmann are in the spotlight for this 2019 Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert broadcast on March 28th at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1 and March 29th at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2.

With parallel careers as a world-renowned contralto and rising star conductor, Ms. Stutzmann made her Philadelphia Orchestra conducting debut in this concert, and pianist Benjamin Grosvenor made 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.

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WRTI's Bliss Michelson interviews Nathalie Stutzmann.

During this 2019 broadcast, you'll hear our late colleague Bliss Michelson speak with Natalie Stutzmann. WRTI's Debra Lew Harder talks backstage with Benjamin Grosvenor.

*As previously reported, our dear colleague Bliss Michelson passed away from COVID-19 on March 14, 2021.

PROGRAM

Haydn: Symphony No. 94 (“Surprise")

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.1 

Benjamin Grosvenor, piano

INTERMISSION

Beethoven: Symphony No. 4

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Nathalie Stutzmann, conductor

Gregg Whiteside is 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.