A Rare Premiere in Vienna

Thomas Larcher (Photo by Richard Haughton)

VIENNA–It is not every day that the Vienna Philharmonic, that most proudly conservative of European cultural institutions, champions the work of a living composer.  So there was an unusual electricity in the air in the Musikverein’s Golden Hall on the afternoon of June 4, with the orchestra, under the baton of Semyon Bychkov, presenting the world premiere of Austrian composer Thomas Larcher’s Second Symphony.

Larcher, 52, originally trained as a concert pianist under Elisabeth Leonskaja in Vienna, and his earliest compositions were written for solo piano and chamber ensembles.  In recent years, he has turned to more ambitious orchestral writing, and his latest work–his first collaboration with the VPO–was a commission for the Austrian National Bank to commemorate the 200th anniversary of its founding.

Larcher initially conceived the work as a concerto for orchestra, and remnants of those early ideas can still be heard in prominent solo passages for various instruments throughout its sprawling 35 minutes.  But basically it is a splashy, standard-form four movement symphony that uses accessible musical language and neglects no orchestral bell or whistle.  Busy-busy orchestrations emphasize novelty and effect: glissandos and harmonics from the strings; extensive use of the prepared piano and muted tuba; and a five-man percussion team that more than earns its keep via xylophone, celeste, accordion, chimes, bells, triangle, clapper, sandblocks, metal sheet, and probably the kitchen sink…

Read the full review here (Musical America, June 15, 2016).

Wiener Philharmoniker
Dirigent: Semyon Bychkov
Samstag, 4. Juni 2016
Thomas Larcher, Symphonie Nr. 2 “Kenotaph”
Richard Strauss, Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40






One thought on “A Rare Premiere in Vienna

  1. Pingback: Fall Classical Music Preview – Chin Up

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