It’s hard to believe that Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety,” was performed only twice by The Philadelphia Orchestra before the performance conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin that WRTI will present for the second time on HD-2 and streaming at WRTI.org on Thursday, May 10 at 7 PM.
Bernstein’s 2nd Symphony could just as easily have been called a piano concerto, which it is in all but name. Jean-Yves Thibaudet is the pianist in this performance, and he has appeared almost every season with the Philadelphians since his debut with them in 1990 at the Mann Center. His discography of more than 50 albums has garnered him multiple awards.
Inspired by a then brand-new work, W.H. Auden’s The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue, published in 1947, and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, it’s a depiction of four protagonists, a woman and three men, who meet in a bar and attempt to form relationships—with each other and with God. Bernstein thought it was one of the most shattering examples of pure virtuosity in the history of English poetry.
Following intermission, it’s Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 4, a work tracing a wide arc from melancholy to triumph, capped off by a boisterous and glorious coda, and a Richard Strauss piece that would seem to have been made for the Philadelphia Orchestra: his youthful tone poem, Don Juan. It’s still almost impossible to believe that someone so young could write such fantastic music for the orchestra. And we’ll hear it Sunday, played by one of the greatest orchestras in the world!
During intermission, WRTI’s Susan Lewis has a conversation with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Debra Lew Harder speaks backstage with one of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s signature players, Assistant Principal Cello Yumi Kendall.
Bernstein: Symphony No. 2, for Piano and Orchestra (“The Age of Anxiety,” after W.H. Auden)
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
Schumann: Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120
Strauss: Don Juan, Op. 20
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor
Gregg Whiteside is producer and host of The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts, every Sunday at 1 pm on WRTI 90.1, streaming online at WRTI.org, and on the WRTI mobile app! Listen again on Mondays at 7 pm on WRTI HD-2.
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