Tchaikovsky in Saxony

by Anne Payot-Le Nabour
Piotr Ilitch Tchaïkovski

«It would be inappropriate for me to tell you how much I marvel at your works.» Like the author of those lines, Nadezhda von Meck, who supported Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky financially, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig also quickly succumbed to the beauty of the Russian composer’s melodies.

Yet unlike the generous patroness – who never even caught a glimpse of her protégé – the musicians of the orchestra met Tchaikovsky as early as 1888, when he was invited to conduct them during the Leipzig stop of his European tour. Tchaikovsky’s stay in the Saxon city proved particularly fruitful, as he went on to meet Johannes Brahms and Edvard Grieg, to attend several concerts given in his honour, to receive a moving tribute by the Liszt Circle and to be graced – probably as a token of the relative success he had achieved – with a morning fanfare under the windows of his hotel room.

All these events may have inspired Andris Nelsons to start a cycle dedicated to the composer when he began his tenure as Music Director of the Gewandhausorchester in 2018. Almost five years on, this initiative has resulted in countless concerts and a series of widely acclaimed recordings. «Andris Nelsons at his best», was ResMusica’s headline upon the release of the DVD containing, among other highlights, a rapturous interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s fifth symphonic work. This season at the Philharmonie, the Latvian conductor will return to his love of the Russian Romantic at the helm of the Gewandhausorchester, on 28. and 29.02. These two evenings will give us a unique insight into the many genres that inspired Tchaikovsky: the brilliant Violin Concerto with Leonidas Kavakos, the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies taken from what musicologists refer to as the ‹Fate trilogy›, and the Hamlet Overture drawn from another orchestral trilogy inspired by William Shakespeare. To go or not to go, that is not even a question…