Reacquaint yourself with a favorite work or encounter something new on this series that showcases the finest orchestras hand-selected from around the globe. Be captivated by Mozart's perfect final symphony, delighted by a beloved Tchaikovsky ballet, thrilled by the cinematic color of Strauss, and engrossed by the drama of Bartók.
You won’t have to wait for Christmas to be enchanted by Tchaikovsky’s whimsical and wonderful ballet The Nutcracker. The irresistible music is spectacularly orchestrated and imbued with some of the most beloved—and widely recognized—melodies ever written. From the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," with its beguiling celesta solo, to the exuberant energy of the national dances, and culminating in the beautiful final tableau, it is a classic for all ages.
Mariinsky Orchestra Valery Gergiev, Music Director and Conductor
Beethoven and Strauss explore the heroic. Beethoven’s titanic spirit is at the core of the “Emperor” Concerto, a grand work where master symphonist and piano virtuoso are joined. Strauss tells the story of a “great man” in his lavishly scored Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life). He never called his piece autobiographical, but there are passages alluding to his earlier music. There is also some of the finest battle music ever written—a show-stopping sequence where the hero clashes with his critics that raised the bar for film composers into the next century and beyond.
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Daniel Harding, Conductor Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano
Haydn and Mozart are deeply rooted in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s tradition. Hearing them perform works by both composers is a special occasion, but when violin superstar Leonidas Kavakos joins them in Mozart’s elegant and dramatic Violin Concerto No. 5, it’s a concert you cannot miss. Haydn’s Symphony No. 97 thrills from its opening martial trumpets and drum fanfares to its bustling finale. Mozart’s “Jupiter,” his final symphony, opens with great pomp as well, but that’s only an episode in a work of tremendous emotional range that culminates in a miraculous display of counterpoint and joy.
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Ádám Fischer, Conductor Leonidas Kavakos, Violin
Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin—conceived as a stage pantomime—tells a lurid tale of seduction and murder with striking effects, including a sinuous clarinet solo that introduces seduction scenes and an eerie wordless chorus as the mandarin’s body emits a greenish-blue light. The composer's Concerto for Orchestra’s vibrant color, harmonic daring, and sheer virtuosity make it one of his most popular works and one of the great orchestral showpieces.
Budapest Festival Orchestra Iván Fischer, Music Director and Conductor Cantemus Choir Szabó Dénes, Choir Master