Alan Gilbert is rated among the great conductors of our time
He is rated among the great conductors of our time: Alan Gilbert was Chief Conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra between 2009 and June 2017 and is now Chief Conductor Designate of the North German Radio Elbphilharmonie Orchestra.
Now he will finally return and present four concerts at the Wiener Musikverein and the Wiener Konzerthaus, with a focus on Czech music. The programme at the Wiener Konzerthaus will also include a work written in his American homeland: Bohuslav Martinus Symphony No. 4, composed in exile in the US, is an impressive response of the Bohemian composer to the end of the Second World War in 1945.
with his incredibly colourful, harmonically dazzling and rhythmically explosive musical language, has substantially contributed to the history of music in the 20th century but who, according to Gilbert, has unfortunately been badly neglected to this day. Martinu started work on the Fourth Symphony in 1945 during the last months of the Second World War and completed it a few weeks after the unconditional surrender of the Nazi regime. In Gilbert’s view, Martinu’s music first exudes quite some optimism for a peaceful future, but the harrowing echoes of the War in the second movement are unmistakable and only dissipate in the spiritual third movement.
Similarly, Gilbert thinks that numerous works by Martinu’s fellow countryman Antonin Dvorák are still far underrepresented in concert halls. This is why he will perform the composer’s seldom heard piano concerto with the Wiener Symphoniker, which, owing to its poetic and lyrical qualities, finds it difficult to be accommodated in the realm of virtuosity.
The soloist for this work will be a true expert: the exceptional British pianist Stephen Hough. “It is incredibly difficult to play, although it does not sound like it at all”, he described the piece. “Not exactly an ideal combination from the interpreter’s perspective.”
Alan Gilbert will also commit himself to one of Dvorák’s daring orchestral works from his late creative period. During his late years, Dvorák actually surprised the music world with works of a genre where he, in particular, was not expected to excel in: symphonic poems. He wrote as many as five works in this genre between 1896 and 1897 in quick succession, that is, after his return from New York.