Symphony No. 33 in B flat major K. 319
Overture to Tannhäuser (Dresden version)
Symphony No. 6 in B minor
In his essay “On the Overture”, Richard Wagner strongly advised his composer colleagues against “wandering off to the wearisome painting of minor plot details”. Ultimately the composer would no longer be able to “carry out his dramatic idea” if details of the action were already revealed in the prelude. Accordingly, in his Tannhäuser prelude Wagner limited himself to a chorale-like trombone choir (Wartburg), shimmering chromaticism (Venusberg) and a tremendous final apotheosis to suggest the story’s key points, beginning with “the orchestra alone imitating the chanting Pilgrims”.
To complement Wagner’s spatialised musical scene, Andris Nelsons turns to a work that Mozart composed in 1779 in Salzburg, the Symphony in B flat major, K. 319. Described by Ludwig Finscher as an “extraordinarily subtle chamber symphony”, it was originally in three movements, the minuet being added later for a performance in Vienna. It was published along with the “Haffner” Symphony in 1785 by the Viennese firm of Artaria, and their popularity with the public has endured to the present day.
To conclude, Nelsons has chosen Shostakovich’s Sixth Symphony, which he conducted in 2008 as the 30-year-old (indirect) successor to Sir Simon Rattle at the helm of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and showed the composer – in the words of Leopold Stokowski – as “a master who was constantly growing in creative imagination and musical self-confidence”.
Andris Nelsons was born to a family of musicians in Riga. His career began as a trumpeter in the orchestra of the Latvian National Opera as well as the winner of many competitions for his singing (including the Latvian Grand Music Award for outstanding achievement in music). After completing his studies in Riga, he became a student of Alexander Titov in St. Petersburg; Mariss Jansons is his most important mentor. From 2003 to 2007 Andris Nelsons was music director of the Latvian National Opera, taking on the same role the year after with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. In 2009, he completed his tenure as principal conductor with the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford. Andris Nelsons regularly conducts performances at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera New York, the Wiener Staatsoper and the Berlin Staatsoper. In summer 2012, he returned to the Bayreuth Festival in a production of Lohengrin, directed by Hans Neuenfels, which Nelson premiered in 2010. Andris Nelsons has already made appearances with such internationally renowned orchestras as the Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the Staatskapelle Berlin, the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, the Boston Symphony and the New York Philharmonic Orchestras. He first conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker in October 2010; his most recent appearance was in October 2012 in a programme of works by Britten, Debussy, Ravel and Widmann.