Daniele Gatti, conductor
21 September 2023
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major, Op. 60
Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
Daniele Gatti conducts Beethoven's Fourth and Fifth symphonies. What better start to the season could the Milanese conductor – who has undertaken to perform Beethoven's complete symphonies with the Orchestra Mozart – have in store for the LuganoMusica audience?
And when the Symphony No. 5 is performed on stage, one can only think of absolute music, pure energy that transcends all limits through the power of the soul. The infinite soul of such beauty still finds its own strength today, just as the first reviewer Hoffmann wrote in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung: the Fifth has a kind of revelatory power.
It leads the human being to unsuspected levels of awareness: "It opens up an unknown realm to man". It introduces and accompanies us into a world devoid of anything in common with "the outer world of the senses that surround us" that it does not even resemble. The nostalgia for places never seen and the sadness felt at the remembrance of words never heard are the innermost roots of Romantic restlessness. The answers to our questions come spontaneously, luminously. Beethoven's music moves the levers of emotion. "He separates his ego from the inner realm of sounds and rules over them like an absolute lord".
It is a wonderful listening opportunity to compare the two works on this concert's bill. Although the two symphonies are profoundly different in intent and form, they are closely related. The gestation of the Fifth Symphony – a work full of doubts and questioning – lasted four years and represented an almost obsessive commitment for Beethoven.
The Fourth Symphony was born in the shadow of this major work, at the request of Count Franz von Oppersdorf, almost as a distraction. Devoid of titanic ambitions and inspired instead by aesthetic principles of pure entertainment, the Fourth has a lively, alert, joyful character, or one of heavenly sweetness.
In the Fifth Symphony, it is "destiny beating at the door", as legend has it – in Beethoven's own words – opposites struggle in an ever-changing antagonism: violent contrasts are followed by softer, more lyrical moments, rhythmic passages alternate with gentler accents leading towards more delicate thematic lines in an ever-growing climax, ending in a liberating finale that underpins the entire development of one of the symphonic greatest masterpieces.