This month, the Concertgebouworkest appears in concert in Berlin to mark the occasion of a state visit to the German city by King Willem Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands.
Led by Iván Fischer, who has been appointed the orchestra’s honorary guest conductor as of the 2021-22 season, the Concertgebouworkest plays Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 4 in D major, K 218, with soloist Sylvia Huang, and Beethoven’s Symphony No.
The Concertgebouworkest had royal patronage conferred on it in 1988 on the occasion of the orchestra’s centennial. As patron, Her Majesty Queen Máxima regularly attends concerts and rehearsals, the most recent visit having been on 2nd June this year, during which she was introduced to the new management team, and toured the premises at which the orchestra has been based since 2019.
The last state visit to Berlin took place just over 10 years ago, in April 2011, and this month’s concert is being given as a mark of gratitude by the King and Queen to the German authorities. This performance also marks the first occasion on which the orchestra has played outside Amsterdam since the beginning of the corona crisis early last year.
Multi award-winning and versatile conductor Iván Fischer is no stranger to Berlin – he was chief conductor of the Konzerthaus Berlin and Konzerthaus Orchestra, of which he remains honorary conductor. Maestro Fischer also leads two weeks of programmes each year for the Concertgebouworkest, and regularly appears with leading orchestras in the United States, including the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra. One of his finest achievements has been the founding of the Budapest Festival Orchestra in 1983, an ensemble of which he is still chief conductor, which tours widely and is acclaimed for its recordings.
As a composer, Maestro Fischer has had works performed in both the United States and Europe, he has founded a number of music festivals, he is an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London, and he is opera director for his Iván Fischer Opera Company, having most recently led a Mozart cycle in Budapest and New York.
Sylvia Huang has been first violinist of the Concertgebouworkest since 2014, prior to which she was second violinist at the Belgian National Orchestra. In 2019 Ms Huang became laureate of the Queen Elisabeth International Competition, was awarded the Musiq’3 Audience and Canvas-Klara prizes, and was named Young Musician of the Year 2019, having been awarded the Prix Caecilia by the Belgian Music Press Union.
In this performance, Sylvia Huang is the soloist in the Mozart Violin Concerto No 4, written in Salzburg in 1775. There is no certainty about the date of the concerto’s first performance, nor about the violinist for whom it was written, but it is thought that this might have been Andrä Kolb, an amateur musician and friend of the Mozart family.
The final work in the programme is Beethoven’s Symphony No 4, composed not long after his Fourth Piano Concerto. It was written in the summer and autumn of 1806, a time during which Beethoven was composing his Fifth Symphony, but he set aside work on the Fifth in order to write the Fourth, and – unlike his Third and Fifth symphonies – this lyrical work does not appear to reflect any particular influences on Beethoven’s life. He led the first private performance in Vienna in March 1807, and also the first public performance on 13th April, 1808, in Vienna’s Burgtheater.
This performance by the Concertgebouworkest, which takes place at 7.00 pm (CEST) on 6th July, will also be live-streamed from the Concertgebouworkest website.
In an additional piece of good news, the Concertgebouworkest is now making available the past year’s video recordings free of charge for the month of July. The ‘Lockdown Archives’: a unique retrospective of a historic period – featuring all video recordings made between June 2020 and June 2021 – is available on the following link: concertgebouworkest.nl/en/watch-listen.