As part of a full cycle of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies, Andris Nelsons and the storied Gewandhausorchester perform the Russian’s radiant Fourth Symphony! But first, they open the program with Mussorgsky's Dawn on the Moscow River, a wistful and moving prelude to the unfinished opera Khovanshchina, redolent of Russian folk melodies. They are then joined by star trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger—“the cleanest, subtlest trumpeter on Earth” (The Times)—for Mieczysław Weinberg’s mordant, intriguing Trumpet Concerto, described by Shostakovich as “a symphony for trumpet and orchestra.”
Initially met with a chilly reception—perhaps because critics disapproved of the detailed program notes he wrote to accompany the music, at the behest of benefactor Nadezhda von Meck—Tchaikovsky’s Fourth is now one of the most popular symphonies in the canon. With Beethoven’s Fifth in mind, the composer intended the opening fanfare to represent the motif of fate; as in the work that inspired it, the symphony’s initial darkness is overcome to end on a note of hard-won, unadulterated triumph.