The premiere of Schumann’s Second Symphony was conducted by his friend Felix Mendelssohn, and the work incorporates Bach’s ‘musical signature’ quoted in The Art of Fugue – the notes B-A-C-H (in English B-flat, A, C, B) – so surely he would nod approval at this programme.
It was during the composition of this Symphony that Schumann began to experience the early signs of the mental disorder that would eventually bring his creative life to a premature halt. He wrote, “my resistant spirit had a visible influence on [the symphony] and it is through this that I sought to fight my condition.”
Philippe Herreweghe was born in Ghent and studied at both the university and music conservatory there, studying piano with Marcel Gazelle. He also started to conduct during this period, and founded Collegium Vocale Gent in 1970. He was invited by Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt, who had noticed his innovative work, to participate in their recordings of the complete cantatas of J.S. Bach.
With his highly virtuosic yet unpretentious style, pianist Martin Helmchen continues to impress the international music scene including superb debuts with Berlin Philharmonic and Herbert Blomstedt, Vienna Philharmonic and Valery Gergiev, London Philharmonic and Vladimir Jurowski and with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons. In the USA, he has made his concerto debuts with New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall and at the Tanglewood Festival with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, on both occasions under the baton of Christoph von Dohnányi.