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Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 8 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Detlev Glanert’s Theatrum bestiarum explores man’s darker nature in a colorfully scored orchestral work laced with black humor and propelled by relentless dance-like rhythms. The opening funeral march lends darkness to Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, but it’s only an episode in a magnificent five-movement masterpiece that expresses both despair and joy. Mahler’s symphony embraces all of life: There’s folk-inspired dances, a waltz, and, in its final notes, raucous humor. Of course it is also the symphony with the Adagietto, the beautiful love letter for strings and harp the composer wrote for his wife, Alma.


Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Semyon Bychkov, Conductor


DETLEV GLANERT Theatrum bestiarum (NY Premiere)

MAHLER Symphony No. 5

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission. Please note that there will be no late seating before intermission.

This performance is sponsored by Mizuho Financial Group.

At a Glance

This concert presents two challenging and colorful works from the 20th and 21st centuries. Both display the possibilities of a modern orchestra in the most brilliant way, but are otherwise a study in contrast. Detlev Glanert’s Theatrum bestiarum from 2005 is a dark, surreal commentary on violence and inhumanity. Glanert is strongly influenced by Mahler, but the Mahler symphony heard on this program—though full of funeral marches and dark colors—moves toward comedy and affirmation. The Adagietto, which Mahler composed for his wife, is one of the most serene and soulful things he ever wrote.


Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) is one of the world's leading orchestras, lauded by critics for its unique sound. The orchestra's string section has been called "velvety," the sound of the brass "golden," and the timbre of the woodwinds "distinctly personal." ...

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) is one of the world's leading orchestras, lauded by critics for its unique sound. The orchestra's string section has been called "velvety," the sound of the brass "golden," and the timbre of the woodwinds "distinctly personal." The percussion section has an international reputation for excellence, with the exceptional acoustics of the concert hall playing an important role in this respect.

Equally important is the quality of each musician and the influence exerted on the orchestra by its chief conductors, of which there have been only seven since the orchestra was founded in 1888: Willem Kes (1888-1895), Willem Mengelberg (1895-1945), Eduard van Beinum (1945-1959), Bernard Haitink (1961-1988), Riccardo Chailly (1988-2004), Mariss Jansons (2004-2015), and Daniele Gatti (2016-2017). Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, and other leading composers have conducted the orchestra on multiple occasions.

The RCO regularly collaborates with contemporary composers, including its three house composers: Michel van der Aa, Detlev Glanert, and Richard Rijnvos. In addition to some 90 concerts performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the orchestra gives 40 concerts a year at other leading concert halls around the world. The orchestra has made more than 1,100 recordings to date, many of which have won international distinctions. Since 2004, the orchestra has boasted its own in-house label, RCO Live.

In celebration of its 125th anniversary in 2013, the orchestra embarked on a world tour, visiting six continents in a single year. Between 2016 and 2018, all member states of the European Union will be visited during the RCO Meets Europe concert tour. In each EU country, the orchestra will perform at least one work side by side with a local youth orchestra.

Semyon Bychkov

As a pupil of the legendary Russian pedagogue Ilya Musin, Semyon Bychkov belongs to a select group of notable conductors who were trained at the Leningrad Conservatory. In 1975, at the age of 22, he left for the US to pursue an international career free from the limitations of the Soviet regime. He made his name as the music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Later, he became chief conductor of the Orchestre de Paris and the Semperoper Dresden.

In 1997, Mr. Bychkov became chief conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, a position he held for 13 years. In addition to symphonic repertoire, opera has played an important part in his career. In 2003, he made his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, with Strauss's Elektra. He has also conducted at the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra national de Paris, Vienna State Opera, La Scala in Milan, and Salzburg Festival.

Mr. Bychkov is regularly invited to guest conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony. He is also an annual guest at the BBC Proms.

Mr. Bychkov made his debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1984. In February 2015, he conducted the orchestra in Strauss's An Alpine Symphony, Haydn's Trumpet Concerto in E-flat Major, and Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in E-flat Major with pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque.

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