What is a symphony? What is the role of each instrument in the orchestra? What is a variation? What is a theme? In his Clefs de l'orchestre, Jean-François Zygel seeks to convey to a wide audience the keys to understanding a work from the symphony repertoire performed at the Maison de la Radio. Accompanied by the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra and prestigious conductors, the pianist decomposes the work with humour and provides a context for a clearer explanation.
I remember my first symphonic experience: I was 8 and I went to see a Sunday concert for children at Théâtre du Châtelet. The Fourtieth Symphony was part of the concert's programme. Strange as it may seem, I remember my fascination was mainly due to the entire ritual: the orchestra tuning up, then the director showing up and the violin solo start playing...
Usually, it is the main theme of the symphony to be remembered, but what stroked me more was the accompaniment in violins before the melody starts. As far as I know, in the rest of his work Mozart used this device only twice: in the Concerto for piano No. 27 and in the Cherubin's first aria in The marriage of Figaro. Even though they were composed at the end of Mozart's life, these three themes, among the Mozart's most famous ones, share a youthful vitality
What I like in Mozart is the fact that nothing comes to the surface. Not even a note takes place plainly; everything unrolls as if it comes from the depths. And it is vain to try to find out the mechanism behind that, Mozart doesn't put anything in order; he keeps inventing with an extraordinary freedom. So his music constantly creates different conjunctions which take each time a new and unique shape reflecting the sense of human enigmas.
Mozart was used to compare melody to a racehorse and harmony and counterpoint to workhorses. In this symphony, all horses are the same
A strong melody resists to everything. Time is powerless against Mozart's music
Tragic and seducing at the same time, complicated yet popular, I finally understood it only after having studied all the other works of Mozart
Keys to the Orchestra by Jean-François Zygel
Jean-François Zygel's music lesson
Philarmonia Orchestra, Norman del Mar (conductor) - Ernest Lush (piano) - Georges Pludermacher (piano)