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About this performance

Wagner Lohengrin Act 1: Prelude
HK Gruber Aerial
Schumann Symphony No. 2

André de Ridder conductor
Håkan Hardenberger trumpet

The concert
What exactly can the trumpet do?

A contemporary masterpiece, HK Gruber’s Aerial will be played by the genius trumpeter for whom it was written.

It’s utterly unlike anything you’ve heard before. HK Gruber composed his uncanny and haunting contemporary masterpiece, Aerial, specifically for the world’s leading trumpeter and his personal friend Håkan Hardenberger. Keen to expand the limits of what the trumpet can do, Gruber asked Hardenberger if he could play trumpet and sing simultaneously.

Hardenberger answered directly, “I don’t know”.

Three weeks later, Gruber arrived home to find a message on his answering machine. It was Hardenberger - singing and playing trumpet at the same time.

Aerial is one of the great collaborations between composer and player. The piece begins with a sense of otherworldly strangeness, notes bend and slide; high romanticism suddenly curdles into the sinister. The second section is jauntier and more upbeat, yet the Danse Macabre always feels close to the surface.

Robert Schumann had begun to show signs of serious mental and physical illness by the time he composed his Symphony No. 2 in C major. His wife Clara wrote that Robert could not sleep and she often found him “bathed in tears”. The composer suffered from a range of phobias, including fears of blindness, heights, metal items, poison and medicine. He wrote much of Symphony No.2 in a deep state of depression, but things had begun to turn around by the final movement. The mood of the piece reflects feeling of hard-won affirmation and relief.

André de Ridder conducts this performance, which opens with Wagner’s most delicate and graceful opening, the sublime prelude of Lohengrin.

Running time
1 hour and 32 minutes, including a 20-minute interval.

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