Fabio Luisi Conductor
Emanuel Ax Piano
Mozart Piano Concerto No. 25
Orff Carmina burana
When composer Carl Orff stumbled across a collection of medieval poems and songs in the mid-1930s, it was a treasure trove. Tucked away in a Benedictine abbey near Munich, the original manuscript contained hundreds of secular poems and songs written by university students preparing for the priesthood. Despite their holy career goals, these students wrote about earthly, even bawdy themes of wine, women, and song, and dreamed of a pagan goddess called Fortuna, who controlled humans’ fate with the spin of a wheel. Orff, taken with the imagery of the writing, worked with a Latin scholar to choose 24 of the songs and assembled them into his “scenic cantata” Carmina burana. The result, an hour-long work of choral and orchestral genius, seizes the listener’s sonic imagination with its roaring choruses, pulse-raising rhythms, monastic chants, and sighing lyricism, filled with images of youth bursting with love and longing. This music has thrilled audiences inside the concert hall and beyond, popping up frequently in film and television scores and commercials, perhaps one of the best-known and best-loved works in the repertoire.
This program of classics begins with one of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s most welcome guests, pianist Emanuel Ax, performing Mozart’s grandest piano concerto, No. 25. Ax’s popularity is based on his innate musicality and a rigorous technique informed by a deep love of the music. The Washington Post calls him “an extremely satisfying pianist; he is at home in a wide variety of music and his pianism is always thoughtful, lyrical, lustrous.” Ax counts Mozart among his favorite composers, noting that “Mozart was an opera guy, a theater person, and the concertos are absolutely a part of that. I think there’s a grandeur about this piece [Piano Concerto No. 25] that is so wonderful, so big … the slow movement is pure magic.”
GRAMMY® Award–winning Italian conductor Fabio Luisi, renowned for his passion at the podium, has won rave reviews for his “exhilarating, thrilling, dynamic” performances (San Francisco Classical Voice). Fun fact: When not busy conducting, Luisi is a passionate perfume maker.