Budapest Festival Orchestra
Iván Fischer conductor
Anna Prohaska soprano
Siegfried Idyll symphonic poem in E major for chamber orchestra WWV 103
Les illuminations for soprano and strings, Op. 18
Franz Joseph Haydn
Symphony n. 104 in D major “London” Hob. 104
Three ideas of music developed far from home, three compositions divided between the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, with the strings taking on the role of undisputed protagonist. Franz Joseph Haydn was in London in 1795 when he presented his Symphony No. 104, which was to be called “London”, and was received with remarkable success at the King’s Theatre, thanks to its sumptuous tonal combinations and surprising emotional contrasts between moments of pain and rushes of adrenaline. Richard Wagner, on the other hand, was in Tribschen, Lucerne, when, on Christmas Day 1870, he created the most famous birthday gift in the history of music. It was for his wife, Cosima, and the composition was entitled Siegfried Idyll, in celebration of the birth of his son Siegfried. Englishman Benjamin Britten completed the ten songs that make up the cycle of Les Illuminations while on Long Island. He had moved there in 1939 with his companion, tenor Peter Pears, to escape the winds of war that were blowing across Europe and criticism from the British music world. The lyrics in the collection originate from Arthur Rimbaud’s Les Illuminations (1874), a collection of poetic prose full of ambiguous and hallucinated visions, written by the French poet during his travels in the company of Paul Verlaine. His fascination with the United States did not last long (“America has all the faults of Europe and none of its attractions”, was Britten’s bitter comment), but did however mark an essential part of his life. Upon returning home, he was ready to rewrite the destiny of English musical theatre.