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Jeff Spurgeon: They may be off to Europe in the morning, but tonight they're live on the radio. The National Symphony Orchestra takes the stage with their music director, Gianandrea Noseda, at the podium to perform works by Alban Berg, Erich Korngold, and Beethoven. This is Carnegie Hall Live. I'm Jeff Spurgeon, backstage at Carnegie Hall, alongside John Schaefer.
John Schaefer: And the National Symphony Orchestra is based in Washington, D. C., Gianandrea Noseda, now in his seventh season as their music director. He's known as both an orchestral conductor and an opera conductor. Tonight he leads a performance that is in part part of Carnegie Hall's festival dedicated to music from the waning days of the Weimar Republic.
This was the period in Germany. Between the end of World War I and the takeover by the Nazis in 1933, when the country was very volatile politically, but it was also an extraordinary place where the arts really flourished. And we spoke with Noseda earlier this week. He told us a bit about how artists found themselves caught up in such a historic shift.
Gianandrea Noseda: Of course, it's a moment of, tension. Because, you know, the National Socialism in 1933 doesn't come out from the blue. There is always something before that that signals that something tragic is going to happen. But the composers, they didn't know yet. They were in this situation where they had to find their voice in a moment of passage from one thing to another one, to the next one. And you feel all this tension, especially in the music of the Second Viennese School. You feel this. And of course, you feel also that when one composer is obliged to, I mean obliged, decided to leave this situation, just to live abroad.
Jeff Spurgeon: Music Director Gianandrea Noseda of the National Symphony Orchestra, referring there to Erich Korngold. who left Europe and came to America, made a new life and a new career.
And he also mentioned, Noseda, the second Viennese school, and that's a reference to Alban Berg and his colleague, Anton Weber, and their teacher, Arnold Schoenberg, who developed this new system of atonal, twelve tone music.
John Schaefer: And Berg, whose music is on the program tonight, developed his own very kind of romantic, melodic take on that 12-tone style, as we'll hear in a little while.
But the man behind the, the story behind the music of the violin concerto that we'll be hearing, Erich Korngold, he had a very remarkable life.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yes, he did.
John Schaefer: Very high highs during the Weimar Republic. In fact, he was one of the hot young composers on the European scene. His opera Die tote Stadt was you know, something that was premiered to great acclaim in multiple cities throughout Germany at that time.
But then, Jeff, as you mentioned, he had to flee Europe when the Nazis came to power as a Jewish composer, and his music was banned. He found pieces like Die tote Stadt completely falling into oblivion. But when he did go to Hollywood in 1933, he became a star there as well. Originally, he was asked to help arrange music by Mendelssohn for a Warner Brothers production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and from there, it just took off and led to him writing some great film scores.
Jeff Spurgeon: And really, when we think of Korngold, that's the music we think of. Perhaps unfairly, because, as you said, John, he was extremely talented earlier, a child prodigy, and yet, he created all these memorable scores, quite a few Errol Flynn movie scores, Captain Blood, Another Dawn, the Adventures of Robin Hood, and a lot of that style of scoring worked its way into all of Hollywood, and then later on into Korngold's concert pieces, including the violin concerto that we're going to hear tonight.
James Ehnes is the soloist in that work this evening. He told us a little bit about what we can expect from this concerto by Korngold.
James Ehnes: Well, I think one of the really notable things about the concerto is that the violinist plays the role of the sort of musical hero, if you would, from the very, very start.
There's no orchestral introduction. The violin comes right in. The first movement is a wonderful mix of melody and virtuosity, at times very, very lyrical, at other times it's very virtuosic. If it was the only movement of a piece, it would be a very successful concert piece on its own, I think.
The second movement is maybe my favorite. It is so beautiful in, in the way, it's very difficult to describe it, in the way that, that is very specific to Korngold. I think that the, the textures and the harmonies really could not have been conceived of by anyone else. Particularly beautiful piece.
And the last movement is, I mean, it's kind of a, a virtuosic romp. I mean, it sounds like something out of an old Errol Flynn movie or something. And the last movement is the biggest earworm, you know, it's the piece that people come out of the hall humming. Very virtuosic for the solo violinist, as in everything else Korngold wrote. It makes brilliant use of the orchestra, incredible colors and textures. I think we're going to have a good time with it.
John Schaefer: That is the violinist James Ehnes speaking about the piece he'll be performing with the orchestra in just a little while, Erich Korngold's Violin Concerto. So we'll look forward to that, and if you're a fan of old movies, you might recognize a moment or two in that Violin Concerto.
But, to begin the program tonight, we have Alban Berg's Lyric Suite in its orchestral version. It was originally six pieces for string quartet, and then Berg arranged three of the pieces for orchestra. Berg was part of that second Viennese school, along with Anton Webern and their teacher Arnold Schoenberg, developing the so called 12 tone technique, a way of kind of freeing notes from the tyranny of tonality, where every note was equal, and you know, it's, it is, Jeff a kind of a callback to the first Viennese school, which of course was Beethoven, whom we'll hear later, and Schubert, and that whole crowd.
Jeff Spurgeon: Speaking of crowd, out on stage now is concertmaster Nurit Bar-Josef, tuning the National Symphony Orchestra ahead of this music of Alban Berg that we're going to hear, which it sounds a little different from say Schoenberg's 12 tone stuff. We talked with Gianandrea Noseda about this piece, and he had that feeling as well.
Gianandrea Noseda: This music is particularly important for me because despite the fact that he used the complete 12 tone technique, the result that Berg can achieve is more melodic. Of course, there are harsh dissonances, but the way he uses these dissonances are much milder.
Jeff Spurgeon: And now, here is Gianandrea Noseda.And Alban Berg's Lyric Suite, with the National Symphony Orchestra, from Carnegie Hall, Live.
MUSIC – BERG’S LYRIC SUITE
John Schaefer: The National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by their music director, Gianandrea Noseda, performing the Lyric Suite, the orchestral version of that work, by Alban Berg, a piece written and performed during the years of the Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1920s, originally six pieces for string quartet. Berg orchestrated three of them for string orchestra, and that is what you just heard.
And we are at Carnegie Hall for a remarkable concert, really, from the National Symphony Orchestra. Three works that, Jeff, all have some kind of relationship to romanticism. Berg, as a 12-tone composer, you would not expect to have that kind of lush, romantic lyricism, which clearly he does.
Jeff Spurgeon: Lots of passion in that music, absolutely. And then the next work we're going to hear is suffused with the sounds of one generation before the composer, Erich Korngold, born in 1897. This music is going to be filled with the sounds of Strauss. There are all of the Romantic richnesses in it. And then Erich Korngold's own particular kind of lyricism, which is very beautiful and, for me at least, always surprising and pleasing in ways that I wasn't expecting.
John Schaefer: Now, that, the Alban Berg performance was just the strings, so now the rest of the National Symphony Orchestra is being ushered out onto the stage, because the Korngold calls for a pretty big orchestra. [Yes.] This is a guy who made his living writing some of the most well known film scores in Hollywood, and was used to having a big orchestra at his disposal.
Jeff Spurgeon: A great big musical palette, so yeah, another dozen and a half or so musicians on stage. The string players, actually we're surrounded by them backstage as we sit here at Carnegie Hall. As they move the chairs out, and now the string players are going out. Percussionists, brass players coming in from stage right at Carnegie Hall, so things are filling up and we're getting ready for this next great sound adventure that we will take with the violinist James Ehnes as the soloist.
John Schaefer: So, the Violin Concerto in D major is a work that he started, Korngold did, in the 1930s. Didn't finish it until the mid 1940s.
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, he had said that he was not going to write any concert music until Hitler was out of power. And so, after Hitler's defeat, Korngold turned back to this concerto that, as you said, he had begun in 1937 or 38, and finished it in 1945.
John Schaefer: It's worth remembering, too, that, you know, there seemed to be a divide between "serious concert music" and writing for film, despite the fact that some of the greatest composers of the day were writing for film. Think of Prokofiev or Sir William Walton, etc.
Jeff Spurgeon: I'm reminded of a friend who said that he hated going into record stores, when there were record stores, he hated going into record stores where they were in sections. He said it all ought to just be names. All the music together. So yes, we pair off film music, as opposed to concert music. It's so not fair, as you're about to hear, if you only know the film scores of Erich Korngold, because this is an exciting work that contains all of his trademark sounds, and in fact, specific references to a couple of film scores, but the magic and richness of the concert experience with the Symphony Orchestra.
Now on stage, James Ehnes and Gianandrea Noseda, and the National Symphony Orchestra. Here at Carnegie Hall, to bring you the violin concerto of Erich Korngold from Carnegie Hall Live.
MUSIC – KORNGOLD VIOLIN CONCERTO
From Carnegie Hall Live, you've just heard a performance of one of the great violin concertos of the 20th century. The soloist James Ehnes, the National Symphony Orchestra, and their music director, Gianandrea Noseda, and the violin concerto of Erich Korngold. A very pleased crowd, as you hear, there was a very affectionate hug between Noseda and Ehnes at the conclusion of that work.
First time they've played this piece together, though they've worked together before. First time they played the Korngold Concerto together.
An exciting performance, John Schaefer.
John Schaefer: Very exciting, Jeff Spurgeon. I, although one of the least exciting parts of it was the most kind of intriguing to me, and that is the end of the second movement, which had just, you know, it wasn't a lot of bravura, virtuosity, just telling tiny little details.
A touch of celesta here, a sprinkling of harp there. Nothing more than that. And just, you know, a very... the craftsmanship of someone who knows the orchestra and knows how to paint with those colors.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah, and beautifully, beautifully done. Well, this is a man who'd worked in cinema a great deal before he wrote this concerto, and as he was writing it, too. Started it in the 1930s, completed it in the 1940s, did Erich Korngold.
Big solo bow for James Ehnes on stage here at Carnegie Hall with the National Symphony Orchestra and music director Gianandrea Noseda.
Now, backstage, it is not atypical for a soloist in this situation to offer an encore, but occasionally they also have to tie their shoelaces, so James Ehnes just placed his violin on the floor and fixed that right that left shoelace, and now he's back out on stage, and we're going to get an encore from this Canadian American artist.
MUSIC – YSAŸE SONATA NO. 3
I was going to say a rousing encore, but that's pretty obvious. James Ehnes, offering an encore after his performance of the Korngold Violin Concerto with the National Symphony Orchestra, playing one of the amazing solo works of the Belgian violinists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Eugène Ysaÿe, his Sonata No. 3. What an encore to present to this audience at Carnegie Hall.
John Schaefer: It's a piece that, when it begins, you think, oh, I see what he's doing. He's playing this lovely, romantic, appassionato thing that harkens back to the Korngold. And then It just takes off. Ysaÿe just starts busting out the fireworks and yeah, that, a little of everything.
And the audience here at Carnegie Hall clearly along for the ride.
Jeff Spurgeon: With him every step of the way.
John Schaefer: James Ehnes, the Canadian born, American based violinist, soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra in the Korngold Violin Concerto, and now this Sonata No. 3 by Eugene Ysaÿe live on stage. And looks like we may get more.
James Ehnes: This is a bit less intense. This is the third movement from the Sonata No. 2 by Johann Sebastian Bach.
MUSIC – BACH SONATA NO. 2, 3RD MOVEMENT
John Schaefer: Another encore, this one in a, this one in a more reflective mode from the violinist James Ehnes live on stage at Carnegie Hall with music of Bach. Third movement from the Sonata No. 2 for unaccompanied violin by Bach.
Jeff Spurgeon: And if the Ysaÿe was a, an episode of fireworks, then the, then the Bach is a benediction to this audience, after a performance by James Ehnes of the Erich Korngold Violin Concerto with the National Symphony Orchestra on this program.
John Schaefer: By the way, the members of the orchestra all still out there on stage enjoying these performances by James Ehnes along with the audience here in the hall at Carnegie Hall.
This is Carnegie Hall Live. I'm John Schaefer alongside Jeff Spurgeon and joining us at the microphone just off the stage is violinist James Ehnes. Well done.
James Ehnes: Thank you.
Jeff Spurgeon: Congratulations on that performance. You said that you enjoy playing this Korngold Concerto.
James Ehnes: I do, yeah.
Jeff Spurgeon: Especially the second movement. How long have you been playing it? Because you're just a kid.
James Ehnes: No, yeah, well, I think my first performance of this You know, I think I can actually figure this out. I feel like it was in '98, so it was, yeah. You know, coming up on 25, 26 years ago.
Jeff Spurgeon: And how long ago, how, how much before that were you playing it? Did you learn it in school as a kid? You been playing the violin since you were four?
James Ehnes: Well, you know, it's a piece that was actually a, a great favorite of my teacher growing up. Francis Chaplin, my teacher in Canada. And I think I, I worked on it a bit with him. And then once I, I, I came to to school here in New York, I was at Julliard with Sally Thomas and Ms. Thomas and I worked on this together. And, yeah, so it was that, it was around, yeah, I was 21 or something when I did it for the first time. And I've been lucky to play it a lot since, because I really love Korngold's music, and and this concerto is certainly a great one.
Jeff Spurgeon: Now you've played with, with Noseda before, but you haven't played this piece with him.
James Ehnes: No, actually, we've played a lot of stuff together, but not this. So yeah, he's really one of my, my favorite people, one of my close friends, and, and someone I've collaborated with a great deal. But, yeah, we, slowly but surely, we're working our way through the repertoire. We've got a few left.
John Schaefer: Is it time for a, a sort of a, a new look at Korngold, do you think? Because, you know, we sort of peg him as the film score guy.
James Ehnes: Yeah, you know, I wonder, I feel like periodically there are these there are these forays deeper into Korngold's works, and,
John Schaefer: Well, the opera Die tote Stadt has been resurrected.
James Ehnes: Yeah, that, thankfully, is really coming into the repertoire. I mean, that's the most glorious piece. I mean, just the most incredible music, and the craziest story. But yeah, you know, I, chamber music is a big part of my life. I'm the Artistic Director of the Seattle Chamber Music Society, and we do a lot of Korngold out there.
The string sextet, for any of you listeners that may not be familiar with the string sextet, the slow movement of that, I guarantee, that's one to explore.
John Schaefer: Well, the slow movement of the violin concerto, I mean, I'm probably not the only person who had mental images of, I don't know, Olivia de Havilland, you know, Clark Gable, or whatever.
It just, it has that kind of cinematic scope to it.
James Ehnes: Yeah, well, it certainly does. I mean, the themes of the piece were taken from his film scores. You may have mentioned that already. Yes. But it's, it's curious to me, you know, I wonder sometimes, does it sound like film music to us because he basically, along with a couple of others, invented the genre, you know?
Does it sound like film music because it sounds like film music, or do we think of film music because it sounds like Korngold? It's very hard to know.
John Schaefer: Well, and I was also thinking during the third movement John Williams, son of Eric Korngold, in a sense.
James Ehnes: Oh yeah, definitely. There's a great lineage of these.
I mean, you know, film music is really I think we may look back on that as one of the most important elements of 20th century art. And certainly, when you think of John Williams and Erich Korngold, I mean, those are two of the greatest giants.
Jeff Spurgeon: Film came into its own in the 20th century, and it brought, by fortune, it brought great music with it.
James Ehnes: Indeed, yeah. It really did.
Jeff Spurgeon: James Ehnes, you have an enormous repertoire, so you're off to do some recital programs here. You've got other concerto programs, playing the Brahms. How do you keep, how do you keep all this music together? Do you, do you study at all? Do you put pieces away? Are you done with the Korngold for a couple weeks? Goes back in the back of the folder.
James Ehnes: You know, Korngold, like I mentioned earlier, I don't know why I've been the lucky one to get to play Korngold a lot. I haven't played it particularly recently, but it, you know, I've played it enough that it sort of always lives fairly close to the front of the mental file cabinet.
I do like to rotate a lot of repertoire. I think the violin has such an incredibly rich repertoire and honestly, you know, if you figure there are 40 to 50 truly great concerti. Then, you know, if you only play five a year, it's going to be ten years before you get through those. So that that to me is sad. I would miss my friends.
Jeff Spurgeon: That's a wonderful attitude. Let's bring out the, yeah, as you said, you miss your friends. I think that's a wonderful way to express it. Well, thank you, James. This has been an amazing, I think it's been an amazing night for us to hear you.
James Ehnes: Well, thank you. Real, real pleasure to be here. I mean, it's always a great honor to play on this stage.
Jeff Spurgeon: James Ehnes soloing tonight with the National Symphony Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda with us from Carnegie Hall Live.
Classical New York is 105. 9 FM in HD, WQXR Newark and 90. 3 FM WQXW Ossining.
Backstage at Carnegie Hall now I'm Jeff Spurgeon with John Schaefer and with the National Symphony Orchestra and their music director Gianandrea Noseda.
We have five or six minutes left in intermission before we hear one of the great works of Beethoven, which does, if we think about it in a particular way, very much play into the theme of Carnegie Hall's Festival that's going on now. This festival, looking at the music and the art that sprung up in Europe and other parts of the world in the late 19-teens and through the 1920s, the time of tremendous social change.
But a time of democracy in Germany, which disappeared in the early 1930s, and the people at Carnegie Hall said, our era looks perhaps like that era as well. Maybe we should take a look at what was going on then in order to talk about what is happening in the world now. So how does the Beethoven Eroica fit into that?
Well, it's simply a piece of music that was part, absolutely a staple of concert programs at that time. So when we, when we hear the Beethoven Eroica now, we are also hearing what was in the air as the standard sound of orchestral music in the 1920s in Europe and part of the United States as well.
John Schaefer: But also, just as we're looking back a hundred years, if you look back a hundred years from then to when Beethoven actually wrote this piece, you're talking about another time of huge political upheaval in Europe.
And so, all three composers on this program have been working at times of social distress, artistic ferment you know, things falling apart and the center not holding. So that, that really is the case with, with what Beethoven has done here with the Eroica Symphony. And, you know, we had a chance to speak to Gianandrea Noseda, and he, he actually said that that's why pieces like the Eroica continue to be important even today.
Gianandrea Noseda: Let's consider between the French Revolution, early 90's in the 18th century, 1791-92, and let's consider the Vienna Congress, 1815, the Restoration. All this period of time was also full of tensions, and Beethoven was operating in this period. So, and the voice of these composers are very inspiring because they should teach us when we live through tense times, difficult times, how to pay attention to the artist, and not the artist the reproduces the performance, but the ones who create, the composers, the literate, the painters, because they have a sort of radar on to try to understand where the society is going to be taken. So I think even today it's important to present music like this.
John Schaefer: That's Gianandrea Noseda, the music director of the National Symphony Orchestra. I like that idea of, you know, the composers, the writers, the painters, the poets as having some kind of radar. That, that they, they have something to impart to us that we should be paying attention to. Especially at the times when art seems like it's kind of peripheral.
Jeff Spurgeon: Artists cannot help but write of the times in which they live, and so those creative people are constantly reflecting the world that we know back to us, but maybe with greater insight than we can bring to it ourselves, and certainly more artistic richness.
That's why people come to Carnegie Hall, for heaven's sakes.
John Schaefer: And in the case of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony, the Symphony No. 3, there is kind of a dramatic backstory to this piece.
Jeff Spurgeon: Oh, yeah, Beethoven originally dedicated the work to Napoleon. And Beethoven was caught up in the ideals, the, the Enlightenment ideals that were a part of the French Revolution.
But after Napoleon declared himself Emperor the story is that Beethoven ripped the dedication page apart and instead dedicated the work to the memory of a great man.
John Schaefer: Yes, Beethoven, irascible as always. There is a, there is a book, a children's book called Why Beethoven Threw the Soup. There are just so many tales of Beethoven being a pill, essentially.
Jeff Spurgeon: That's probably one of the less difficult things that he did was throw the soup.
John Schaefer: You know, the Eroica was a turning point, not just for Beethoven, but for the symphony, you know? I mean, he composed it mostly in 1803, so he's in his early 30s. He's, he's aware that he's beginning to lose his hearing, and his works are becoming much more expansive. He's pouring more thought, more emotion into them, and in, in this piece, you know, the first movement alone is so much beyond the boundaries of what symphonies sounded like, including his first two.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah, the reception of the symphony was not great. It was too long. What are people thinking about in, in, what is the composer thinking about in this work?
And, and another thing to remember, as you mentioned, John, Beethoven was going deaf at this time. And he had written that famous sort of will, or an explanation, really, of his life's purpose from that point, the Heiligenstadt Testament. Where he talked about his despair of not being able to, in a way, live a life that we might say normal people could live because he couldn't hear.
But he did find in himself, somehow, enough drive and purpose to say that art was going to be the thing that, that he was going to live for, and that is what that piece of music is about, and it certainly is reflected in the intensity, the power, just the sheer length of the Third Symphony.
John Schaefer: Yeah. And, and the title Eroica and the idea of the the heroism of the great man, whoever that might be, there is a part of me that wonders whether Beethoven had Beethoven in mind. You know, I mean, he was fighting against, you know, a kind of existential threat to his self image, his, you know, he was a composer, losing his hearing, you know there was just so much in the background of this piece, even apart from what was happening in Europe at the time.
Jeff Spurgeon: And so the orchestra is now back out on stage. Stage door is closed. You hear that phone sound. That's to tell people in the audience to, that's to remind them to turn off their phones. Some of them, of course, are reminded to turn up their phones. We'll see how successful that effort is. Tonight, in just a couple of minutes, as the orchestra tunes, and Maestro Noseda is backstage, we are about ready to take this great adventure with Beethoven, this incredible funeral movement, funeral march in the second movement, and it's just a grand and expansive work, remarkable in its time, and even more so today, perhaps.
John Schaefer: From Carnegie Hall Live, we'll hear the National Symphony Orchestra, now being joined on stage by their long time music director, Gianandrea Noseda.
Asking the orchestra to rise, applause from the audience, Noseda bows to the crowd, turns to face the orchestra, and off we go with Beethoven's Eroica Symphony from Carnegie Hall Live.
MUSIC – BEETHOVEN SYMPHONY NO. 3 “EROICA”
Jeff Spurgeon: From Carnegie Hall, live, you've just heard the National Symphony Orchestra and their music director, Gianandrea Noseda, and the Symphony No. 3, Eroica, of Ludwig van Beethoven. At the conclusion of that performance, after the audience cheers had begun, Noseda leaned forward ever so slightly, and just touched his lips to the score, sitting on the music stand. It was almost a private gesture.
John Schaefer: And then, hand to heart, as he faced the orchestra, as if to thank them for a committed performance of this work by Beethoven, that to us now, you know, we don't think anything of a 47-minute-long symphony.
Jeff Spurgeon: It sounds normal.
John Schaefer: In 1803, people must have thought he had lost his mind.
Jeff Spurgeon: They did. They did think he'd lost his mind, and certainly, what are you, do you not want an audience producing music like this? But Beethoven knew.
Back on stage now, Gianandrea Noseda, asking for some of his players to step forward, the percussion section. In the back, turning his attention.
John Schaefer: Actually wandering through the orchestra.
He's not at the podium pointing out different sections, he's wandering through the players. Which is a nice touch.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah, indeed. Now back in front, now at the foot of the stage, before the audience.
Well, the Beethoven is something that's been swirling around this orchestra for a while. The orchestra produced in just the last just a couple of years a recording of all of the Beethoven symphonies under Noseda's direction. Recordings made during a bit of the pandemic early part of 19 of 2022, and then again in the middle of 19 of 19, of 2023 the rest of those performances were made. So these are works that are close to the symphony players for sure, been part of their world for a couple of years in a very intense way.
John Schaefer: And the sustained applause for, for Gianandrea Noseda,
Jeff Spurgeon: including from some of his musicians.
John Schaefer: Yes, and the National Symphony Orchestra. The string section, bows tapping their music stands in the the traditional way that string players have of applauding their conductor. And Noseda, asking them all to rise once again to share in the applause. Here at Carnegie Hall.
Jeff Spurgeon: The orchestra's getting ready. In fact, this is their first stop on their tour. I was going to say they're getting ready to tour, but this is the first stop on their tour. New York City. Before they cross the ocean and perform in nine cities in 18 days in Europe. Cities in Germany and Spain. With a stop in Noseda's hometown of Milan as well.
And That concludes the concert at this time, but we expect to have a word with the Maestro in just a moment.
John Schaefer: In fact, yes, the music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, Gianandrea Noseda, joining us at the microphone. A quick thank you and hello to some of the members of the orchestra as they file past. Okay.
Jeff Spurgeon: It is a wonderful, it is a wonderful thing when a conductor stands by to greet these players as they come off the stage. And we're interrupting you tonight from that activity. But thank you so much. What an exciting Beethoven 3 you brought us. This music is still fresh for you after the recordings of just the past couple of years. This stuff is still right on the tip of your tongues and on the, on the front of the fingers of your players, it seems to me.
Gianandrea Noseda: Yeah. I think Beethoven never loses the momentum and the freshness. He has such a power that goes through centuries, through the time. I think he has such a personality that overcomes all the possible interpretations.
I tried to give a reading through the symphony, thanks also to the artists of the National Symphony Orchestra, very brisk, and even the Marche Funebre, I know it's written Adagio assai, but I think that if you go too slow, the people holding the coffin will fall down. So you have to find a right tempo that is not rushed, but is not too slow.
[Yeah. ] Also because when comes the moment of the fugue, if it's too slow, it's difficult to sustain. You have to change the tempo. But I also find spectacular, the first movement, the longest he composed. Even longer than Beethoven 9, than his 9th Symphony. And the scherzo is a little bit more normal, but there are elements like the trio of the French horns, which are absolutely spectacular. And theme and variations, the last movement with the two fugues. And, and, and, and the ending at the coda. And I mean, the imagination is supreme.
Jeff Spurgeon: Just incredible.
John Schaefer: You, you said that, you know, he has such a big personality. This symphony is the one where you really first feel, I mean, the Symphonies 1 and 2 are very well constructed, but yeah, they come out of a tradition. There's a break here.
Gianandrea Noseda: I think nothing was predicting the Eroica. For a while nothing followed the Eroica.
John Schaefer: Including Beethoven himself.
Gianandrea Noseda: Yeah, it's like the monolith in the 2001 Odyssey. When in the desert, one day, they find the monolith. The day before, it was not there. And the monkeys try with the bones to destroy it. So it was not predictable. You didn't expect Nothing was announcing that. And comes The Eroica, yeah.
John Schaefer: So how did you put this program together, the Alban Berg, the Erich Korngold, and the Beethoven? Because it strikes me that Romanticism, you could say it begins with Eroica, and that it ends with the second Viennese school, and, you know.
Gianandrea Noseda: Of course it's Viennese oriented, as you said, but all the three pieces have been written in periods of transition. For instance, the Eroica, 1803, was exactly in between the French Revolution and the Vienna Congress. Right. Restoration. Right. And 25-26, of course, is 10 years after the First World War. I mean, eight years after the First World War was over, it's just 14 years before or 13 years before the Second. So it's in the middle of this period. And even when when Korngold composed in '37, after that he revised in '45, also '37 is just before the Second World War, and '45 was just the end, and there are elements of movie music but such such a structure in a way that made absolutely clear to me that both composers, Berg and Korngold, they came out from the same field.
I think the, the concerto sounded even more meaningful after the Lyric Suite because you could find this chromatism, which is exasperated in the, in Berg, is more gentle, more melodic in (()), but the, the school is the same. Vienna.
Jeff Spurgeon: What are you looking forward to as the orchestra goes on tour? This is the first time the National Symphony's been on tour in like seven or eight years. First time you've taken them overseas, and you get to go home with them
Gianandrea Noseda: Oh yeah, in La Scala, yes. No, I'm personally really looking forward. We are ready to present what we can do. We can deliver quality, beauty. We can play at the highest possible level. And it's nice to do it also outside home. And just to be ambassadors of beauty, of respect, empathy, because music is that. It brings people together. It's important to be at home and to do absolutely something important at home with your people, but also to be ambassador of this beauty all around the world.
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, we thank you for the time tonight. We know you have people you want to see, and you've got some traveling to do.
Thank you so much for spending some time with us.
Gianandrea Noseda: And thank you for being here. It's been a pleasure.
Jeff Spurgeon: It was a wonderful concert.
Gianandrea Noseda: Ciao, everybody.
Jeff Spurgeon: Gianandrea Noseda, the music director of the National Philharmonic, with us at the conclusion of this concert of the orchestrated portions of the Lyric Suite of Alban Berg, James Ehnes playing the wonderful violin concerto of Erich Korngold, and Beethoven's Third Symphony, the Eroica.
John Schaefer: And our thanks to Clive Gillinson and the staff of Carnegie Hall. WQXR's team includes engineers Edward Haber, George Wellington, Duke Marcos, and Bill Siegmund.
Our production team, Lauren Purcell-Joiner, Max Fine, Aimée Buchanan, Yueqing Guo, and Eileen Delahunty. I'm John Schaefer.
Jeff Spurgeon: And I'm Jeff Spurgeon.
Carnegie Hall Live is a co-production of Carnegie Hall and WQXR in New York.