Tchaikovsky described his Fourth Symphony in a letter to Nadezhda von Meck as “perhaps the best I have written so far". With allusions to Beethoven's Fifth and an obsessive exploration of the idea of destiny (introduced the imposing initial fanfare), the symphony took shape at toward the beginning of Tchaikovsky’s platonic relationship with Nadezhda von Meck, the wealthy widow who became the composer’s patron, and to whom the work is dedicated. The Symphony's premiere on February 10, 1878 in Moscow under the baton of Nikolai Rubenstein was met with a lukewarm audience reception, yet despite this difficult start, the work was performed a month later in St. Petersburg to an adoring public who demanded an encore! Herbert von Karajan and the Wiener Philharmoniker perform the work with all the energy, rigor, and subtlety for which they were celebrated.
Verbier Festival 2011