Symphony No. 5 in B flat major
Symphony No. 15 in A major
After an all-Beethoven programme in March 2015, Bernard Haitink, a highly-esteemed guest conductor with the Berliner Philharmoniker for more than 50 years, now conducts two works which he has never performed before with the orchestra: Franz Schubert’s Fifth Symphony in B flat major and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15 in A major.
Beginnings and endings – this could be the theme of the concert: The 19-year-old Schubert’s B-flat major Symphony, composed in the autumn of 1816, belongs to his youthful symphonies in which the composer follows the traditional form model of Haydn and Mozart. The playful lightness of the themes, the cheerful dialogue between instrumental groups and the transparent orchestration clearly display a Mozartean character. But the often surprising harmonic progressions already reveal Schubert’s Romantic sound aesthetic.
Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15, the last written by the Russian composer, also comes across as light and cheerful. But this cheerfulness is only superficial. Shostakovich works with irony and ambiguity, uses musical quotes from his own works and from others’, such as Rossini’s William Tell Overture and Wagner’s Die Walküre, and includes twelve-tone series that are not heard as such, all of which together create a musical picture puzzle, a subtle network of profound symbolic relationships. With this symphony – it is said – Shostakovich left behind his musical autobiography.