Berliner Philharmoniker II
Kirill Petrenko, conductor
Berg | Dvořák
Shaken by the death of Manon Gropius, the daughter of Alma Mahler and Walter Gropius, Alban Berg created one of the 20th century’s most touching violin concertos as a memorial to the young girl. In his Fifth Symphony Antonín Dvořák reflects idioms from Bohemian folk music for the first time and discovers his own musical language.
Two major works by composers who are rarely linked. Nevertheless Dvořák’s ideas and influences are almost impossible to ignore in the early works of the Second Viennese School – especially its Lieder and chamber music. Many commentators regard the Czech composer’s Fifth Symphony as his most significant, even though the Ninth (“The New World”) became more famous. Its intensity of expression, its departures from accredited harmonies and its artistic perfection make it a masterpiece in which the Romantic tradition enriches itself once again in order to strive towards new aesthetic paths. In this respect it is also a confessional work and one of effortless self-assertion.
That its long movement was apparently written as a personal obituary for people he loved, provides only a superficial and rather brittle link with Alban Berg’s violin concerto. The two works are much closer in their passionate tone and vehement urge to express themselves, which Berg in particular channels and makes communicable through a strictly formal approach and scrupulously articulated internal supports. Both composers succeed in integrating external musical relationships into these highly personal contexts – Dvorák in the gestures and moods of his themes, Berg by quoting, among other pieces, a Styrian folk song and a Bach chorale.