Manfred Honeck conducts Brahms, Schumann, and Tchaikovsky — With Yo-Yo Ma

Berlin Philharmonic

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Program notes

The most famous cellist alive (Yo-Yo Ma) takes on one of the cello repertoire's most beloved gems (the Schumann Cello Concerto) alongside one of the world's greatest orchestras (the Berliner Philharmoniker), who also perform Tchaikovsky's most powerful symphony (the Pathétique)—what more could we ask for? 

To kick off the far-from-tragic evening, Manfred Honeck and the Berlin Phil perform Brahms's Tragic Overture, a standalone work full of emotion and grandeur. Yo-Yo Ma then takes the stage to interpret the solo role of Schumann's Cello Concerto in A Minor—a work he knows and feels deeply, having performed and recorded it many times to great acclaim. This nearly-lost late composition, which was never performed in Schumann's lifetime, contains some of his most soul-stirring pages and passes ingeniously from one movement to the next without any pauses (Schumann hated applause between movements). One Romantic masterwork leads to another as the program comes to a close with Tchaikovsky's Pathétique Symphony, his sixth and final (and personal favorite of the composer), first performed just days before his death. "It is undoubtedly clear," to maestro Honeck, "that Tchaikovsky truly put all of his soul into this unique masterpiece. I dare to say that in a way, Tchaikovsky experienced his own death through the music."

Photo © Monika Rittershaus

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