›Valses nobles et sentimentales‹
Concert for two Pianos and Orchestra in D minor
›Dance of the Seven Veils‹ from the Opera ›Salome‹
Suite ›La tragédie de Salomé‹
- Lucas & Arthur Jussen – Pianos
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
About the concert
The fascination with the character of Salome, who in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew demanded (and received) the head of the prophet Jochanaan from her stepfather Herod in return for a dance performance, was a common European phenomenon, though clearly rooted in French Orientalism, which had formed in the 19th century following Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign. Particularly well known were an opulent painting by Gustave Moreau and the story ‘Hérodias’ by Gustave Flaubert, who had travelled to that region himself. Richard Strauss recognised that the contrast between ascetic Christian faith and sensuality was ideal operatic material. The Dresden premiere of his ‘Salome’, based on a drama written in French by the Irish poet Oscar Wilde, turned out to be a succès de scandale in 1905. Much less well known is the composition on the same subject written almost at the same time as ballet music, which Florent Schmitt originally wrote for chamber orchestra but reduced to about half the duration in a version from 1910, in which he expanded the instrumentation for large orchestra. Igor Stravinsky, to whom the piece was dedicated, described it in a letter to the composer as “one of the greatest masterpieces of modern music”. Like Strauss in the famous scene with the ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’ performed in this concert, his French colleague also proves to be a master of shady moods, ambivalent harmonies and an atmosphere of great tonal sensuality.
Fabien Gabel, who has already conducted the DSO several times, contrasts the lavishly orchestrated ‘Salome’ scores with two graceful works from his native France, both of which were written with one eye on revered Austrian composers: While Maurice Ravel paid homage to Franz Schubert with his ‘Valses nobles et sentimentales’, the slow movement from Francis Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra was conceived as an explicit homage to Mozart. In this performance, the Dutch brothers Lucas and Arthur Jussen, unanimously celebrated in the world of Classical music, devote themselves to its lyrically dreamy passages as well as the driving energy of the framing movements. They have already recorded this perhaps most popular work of its genre with great success with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under the direction of Stéphane Denève.