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Gatti and the Vienna Philharmonic triumph with Brahms' symphonies in Athens


Gatti and the Vienna Philharmonic triumph with Brahms' symphonies in Athens

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The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, under the passionate baton of Daniele Gatti, has recently enchanted Athens, performing over two nights Brahms’ four symphonies over two nights

The Italian maestro conducted the four symphonies with the VPO 2012 and his enthusiasm for the pieces hasn’t diminished: “The Brahms cycle was a gift for my 50th birthday from the Orchestra’s musicians – and what a gift it was!”

He inherited his love of Brahms from his father: “Thanks to my father I have to say that I got to know Brahms’ Symphonies quite well, and even before playing his Piano Rhapsodies; I remember that in the evening we used to listen… not to a complete symphony but to a movement here and there… I was very young… I’ve always been fascinated by this composer.”

The love affair between the Vienna Philharmonic and Maestro Gatti spans almost a decade. His interpretation of Brahms stirred great enthusiasm with the Athenian public and the Orchestra, according to its recently elected president, Andreas Grossbauer:

“He gives a lot of breath to the music, so when it’s a little bit slower we have time to control the sound more, so it’s a little bit more this way (he gestures)… [this enables us to] play every phrase, even the fast ones, [and] we have time to focus on every note.”

Gotti says Brahms is a very complex composer: “He’s very ‘mathematical’ – in my view, his greatness, and his mystery, lie in the fact that his composing technique is extremely ‘scientific’, but when you listen to it, the result is one of naturally flowing, almost written on the spot, music.”

For Grossbauer, selecting a favourite among the four symphonies is impossible: “You cannot say [which] is the best [symphony], it’s like comparing a Bordeaux wine to a Burgundy; everything is wonderful! Brahms is special for ‘inside’, and gives you a special feeling, a little bit like… it’s holy, sometimes… There are so many tragic things in the world [but] when you listen to Brahms [you get] very positive feelings.”

Gatti says Brahms’ work allows scope for interpretation: “While remaining respectful to a certain tradition, you can still try and find different angles to a piece, and so make it sound new. If our thorough work on the scores enables us to bring out something different… – of course, the audience is quite free not to appreciate it – still, it’s important they know that our service to this art is absolutely true.

“In fact, I believe I’m one of those musicians who dare to take risks (maybe too many!), but for me this is like a moral duty for my profession.”


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