The sensual hedonism of Debussy’s Faun and the equivocal enchantments of Bartók’s Mandarin—to these colourful orchestral marvels are paired with nothing less than the twin peaks of the repertoire, Ravel’s two concertos, entrusted to the fingers of Yuja Wang.
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, a musical evocation of Mallarmé’s famous poem, unfolds its dreamlike sensuality under the aegis of flute arabesques. The intertwining timbres and an archaic flavour contribute to the sensory enchantment of this famous piece.
After Debussy, we turn to Ravel, with his testamentary Concerto in G, a masterful fusion of classical imagination and jazz accents sometimes Gershwinian in character. Powerful energy gives way to emotion in the Adagio, channelling the spirit of Mozart in a sublime, hypnotic and heartbreaking melody. Equally illustrious, and played without pause, is the Concerto for the Left Hand, with its obscure beginning, high dramatic tension and savagery, and its transcendent virtuosity which, here again, embraces the spirit of jazz improvisation.
The programme concludes with another master of musical modernism, Bartók, and the Orchestral Suite from his expressionist ballet The Miraculous Mandarin. This brilliant score pulls off a surprising mix of raw realism and fantasy, between the industrial din of the city and the enchantment of ‘the Orient’.
October 4, 2023’s concert broadcasted live and available on demand until October 4, 2024 on Philharmonie Live.