Daniel HARDING, director

Obertura Coriolà, op. 62, en do menor  

L. v. Beethoven (1770 – 1827)

I. A la porta del castell

VII. Entreacte

VIII. La Mort de na Mélisande

Simfonia núm. 4 en la menor, op. 63

J. Sibelius (1865-1957)

I. Tempo molto moderato, quasi adagio

II. Allegro molto vivace

III. Il tempo largo

IV. Allegro


Suite Pelléas et Mélisande, op. 46 (selecció de moviments)

J. Sibelius

         I. A la porta del castell

         VII. Entreacte

         VIII. La Mort de na Mélisande

Simfonia núm. 4, op. 60, en si bemoll major

L. v. Beethoven

I. Adagio – Allegro vivace

II. Adagio

III. Allegro molto e vivace

IV. Allegro ma non troppo


Is It Possible to Narrate With Music?
Programmatic Music and Absolute Music by Beethoven and Sibelius

Antoni Pizà―Musicology Professor at The City University of New York

Most music history textbooks usually explain that, during the 19th and part of the 20th century, many composers wrote music according to two principles: One is programmatic music – works for which the composer builds a plot, and the other is absolute music – compositions without any plot. Among other things, this evening’s programme leitmotif includes the following two musical formats: On the one hand, Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and Sibelius’ Suite Pelléas et Mélisande (programmatic works), and on the other, symphonies number 4 by Beethoven and Sibelius (absolute works, that is, without a plot).

Premièred in 1807, the Coriolan Overture, op. 62, in C minor by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), is inspired by a stage play by Heinrich Joseph von Collin, who rewrote the Roman general Gaius Marcius’ life. Exiled from Rome, Gaius joined with the Volsci – an enemy people against whom he had previously fought – and rose against Rome. During the war drive, some Roman women, including his mother, were killed to dissuade him from the invasion. After this tragedy, Coriolanus felt guilty about his mother’s death and committed suicide. Shakespeare also wrote his version of this Roman hero though his protagonist, more dignified, does not commit suicide. In any case, it is not difficult to guess that Beethoven was particularly attracted by this Roman warrior’s tragic and heroic figure.

The overall great philosophical question about programmatic music and this Beethoven Overture is how to represent all this plot confusion in sounds―in music. Beethoven makes it by presenting the first furious and violent theme in C minor, which intends to describe Coriolanus’ independent and rebellious nature. The second theme is in a higher tone and represents his mother wanting to convince him to desist from attacking Rome. Shortly after, the theme returns in a significantly weakened self-doubting C minor―Coriolanus. The music collapses here, just like Coriolanus, who understands death as his only possible destiny, hence falling on his sword in a suicide act.

The second part of this concert begins with another programmatic piece from 1905―the Suite Pelléas et Mélisande, op. 46 by Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). The composer wrote this work to join the famous 1892 play by Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949) ―a drama which had already incidentally been or would be musically approached by composers such as Debussy, Fauré and Schoenberg. Pelléas’ plot addresses a love triangle: The brothers Golaud and Pelléas fall in love with Mélisande. On a leap of jealousy (or betrayal), Golaud kills Pelléas and wounds Mélisande to death. Sibelius creates some mimicry between the plot and the music, translating a few aspects into particular elements like the English choir that represents Mélisande, yet also with more abstract elements like the plot’s unreal atmosphere translated into the strings starting the work and creating an atmospheric, unreal, nebulous atmosphere, very close to Maeterlink’s symbolist aesthetics.

However, this evening’s concert also features two works in the absolute music sphere. The Symphony No. 4 in A minor, op. 63, by J. Sibelius, presents some of the great post-Beethoven European symphonism features. Written in four beats and using a sumptuous, post-romantic orchestration, the composer described this work as a “psychological symphony.” And this is not actually a joyous and mere entertainment work. Written in 1910, it is an artistic expression that anticipates the disaster of the Great War (1914) and indirectly incorporates Freud’s ideas very broadly. The human being is not just a rational element ― dreams, sexuality, dark feelings such as resentment, envy and the desire for power and violence are the main drivers of human behaviour. And in some way, this symphony – the slowness and heaviness of its tempos, the sonorous density of its instrumentation – reflects this whole world we could call expressionist, so to label. Sibelius had cancer before―he had financial and personal problems, and despite being a hero of Finnish nationalism – recognized by almost everyone in his country – he stopped composing at sixty-one, thirty years before he died. Why this creative silence? In addition to the personal circumstances already noted, Sibelius considered that music had taken an absolute drift. Schoenberg and Stravinsky’s revolutions ― incorporating dissonance and rhythmic irregularity ― seemed an atrocity to him.

The concert programme ends with an unfairly underrated work – Symphony No. 4, op. 60, in B flat major by L. v. Beethoven. It is often claimed that the big issue with this 1806 symphony is that it sits between two colossal Beethoven works: Symphony No. 3, “Heroic”, which “invents” – if one can say, European musical Romanticism, and Symphony No. 5, which skyrockets its composer into the pantheon of geniuses, with its emblematic beginning (ta-ta-ta-TAAA). Anyhow, this Symphony no 4, imprisoned – so to speak, within these two unquestionable masterpieces, also asserts its merits.

The case can be outlined as follows: Symphony No. 3, “Heroic”, launches the symphony genre into Romanticism – the pure and uncontrolled expression of feelings, while the work that follows it – Symphony No. 4, seems a return to classicism, to Haydn teachings and expressive moderantism. Its orchestral dimensions are indeed smaller; the instrumentation is simplified, and for instance, it eliminates the third horn and uses a single flute, unlike the three horns and two flutes on the “Heroic.” The musical form also is simpler. And despite its four movements, its duration is around thirty minutes, while the “Heroic” exceeds forty-five. The harmony is also more classical than romantic, and the tonal relationships follow conventions, while in the “Heroic”, the modulations involve journeys to distant tonalities.

Anyhow, Beethoven achieves a beaming, joyful and bright work that includes even doses of humour. And what is Beethoven trying to say in this work so as not “like him” and such against the embittered genius stereotype? What is its plot? What does Beethoven want to narrate here? Well, this is absolute music and not programmatic music so listeners can interpret it however they want. In any case, the message is full of optimism, or if you like, it is not as pessimistic as his other works.


The Chamber Orchestra of Europe (COE) was founded in 1981 by a group of young musicians who became acquainted as part of the European Community Youth Orchestra (now EUYO). There are now about 60 members of the COE, who pursue parallel careers as principals or section leaders of nationally-based orchestras, as eminent chamber musicians, and as tutors of music.

From the start, the COE’s identity was shaped by its partnerships with leading conductors and soloists. It was Claudio Abbado above all who served as an important mentor in the early years. He led the COE in staged works such as Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims and Il barbiere di Siviglia and Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni and conducted numerous concerts featuring works by Schubert and Brahms in particular. Nikolaus Harnoncourt also had a major influence on the development of the COE through his performances and recordings of all of the Beethoven symphonies, as well as through opera productions at the Salzburg, Vienna, and Styriarte festivals.

Currently the Orchestra works closely with Sir András Schiff and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who are both Honorary Members alongside Bernard Haitink and Nikolaus and Alice Harnoncourt. Other artists in our 2020-21 season included Piotr Anderszewski, Lisa Batiashvili, Janine Jansen, Sir Antonio Pappano, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Robin Ticciati and Yuja Wang.

The COE has strong links with many of the major festivals and concert halls in Europe including the Cologne Philharmonie, the Philharmonie Luxembourg, Paris Philharmonie, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Alte Oper in Frankfurt. In partnership with the Kronberg Academy, the COE becomes the first-ever orchestra-in-residence at the Casals Forum in Kronberg from 2022.

With more than 250 works in its discography, the COE’s CDs have won numerous international prizes, including two Grammys and three Gramophone Record of the Year Awards. Their most recent release is an archive recording of the Schubert Symphonies, performed at the Styriarte Festival in Graz in 1988 with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, released by ICA Classics. The 4-CD box-set has been enthusiastically received by the critics internationally and we are planning to release a second box-set of archive recordings with Nikolaus Harnoncourt in the Autumn.

In 2009, the COE Academy was created in order to give a select group of exceptional students the chance to study with the principal players of COE and, importantly, to give the students the opportunity to travel “on tour” with the orchestra.

The COE is a private orchestra which receives invaluable financial support from particularly the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and a further number of Friends including Dasha Shenkman, Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement, the Rupert Hughes Will Trust, the Underwood Trust, the 35th Anniversary Friends and American Friends.


Born in Oxford, Daniel Harding began his career assisting Sir Simon Rattle at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, with which he made his professional debut in 1994. He went on to assist Claudio Abbado at the Berliner Philharmoniker and made his debut with the orchestra at the 1996 Berlin Festival.

He is the Music and Artistic Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He was Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris from 2016 – 2019 and Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra from 2007 – 2017. He is honoured with the lifetime title of Conductor Laureate of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. In 2018, Daniel was named Artistic Director of the Anima Mundi Festival. In 2020, he was named Conductor in Residence of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons.

He is a regular visitor to the Wiener Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonic and the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala. In 2005 he opened the season at La Scala, Milan, conducting a new production of Idomeneo. He returned in 2007 for Salome, in 2008 for a double bill of Bluebeard’s Castle and Il Prigioniero, in 2011 for Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci, for which he was awarded the prestigious Premio della Critica Musicale “Franco Abbiati”, in 2013 for Falstaff, and most recently in 2018 for Fierrabras. He also conducted Ariadne auf Naxos, Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro at the Salzburg Festival with the Wiener Philharmoniker; The Turn of the Screw and Wozzeck at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Die Entführung aus dem Serail at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich, Die Zauberflöte at the Wiener Festwochen and Wozzeck at the Theater an der Wien. Closely associated with the Aix-en-Provence Festival, he has conducted new productions of Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni, The Turn of the Screw, La Traviata, Eugene Onegin and Le nozze di Figaro.

His recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, Mahler Symphony No. 10 with the Wiener Philharmoniker, and Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra both received widespread critical acclaim. For Virgin/EMI he has recorded Mahler Symphony No. 4 with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Brahms’ Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen; Billy Budd with the London Symphony Orchestra (winner of a Grammy Award for best opera recording), Don Giovanni and The Turn of the Screw (awarded the “Choc de l’Année 2002”, the “Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros” and a Gramophone award) with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra; works by Lutosławski with Solveig Kringelborn and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and works by Britten with Ian Bostridge and the Britten Sinfonia (awarded the “Choc de L’Annee 1998”). A regular collaborator with Harmonia Mundi, his latest recordings: ‘The Wagner Project’ with Matthias Goerne; and Mahler Symphony No. 9, recorded with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, were a huge critical success.

The 2022/23 season sees in concert with Royal Concertegebouw Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchèstre de la Suisse Romande, Teatro alla Scala, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Staatskapelle Dresden, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Touring this season will include Europe with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Europe & Scandinavia with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Runfunks. In spring 2023, he makes his debut with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, and that summer, he returns to the Wiener Sttaatsoper in Vienna to conduct a double bill of Cavelleria/Pagliacci.

In 2002 Daniel was awarded the title Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government and in 2017 nominated to the position Officier Arts et Lettres. In 2012, he was elected a member of The Royal Swedish Academy of Music. He is a qualified airline pilot.



Thomas REIF

(Leader Chair supported by Dasha Shenkman)








Matilda KAUL






Henriette SCHEYTT


Martin WALCH

Elizabeth WEXLER


Nimrod GUEZ


Riikka REPO





(Principal Cello Chair supported by an anonymous donor)




Johannes ROSTAMO



(Principal Bass Chair supported by Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement)






(Principal Flute Chair supported by The Rupert Hughes Will Trust)

Josine BUTER


Sebastien GIOT

(Principal Oboe Chair supported by

The Rupert Hughes Will Trust)

Rachel FROST





Miguel Ángel MESA

(Principal Bassoon Chair supported by The 35th Anniversary Friends)

Christopher GUNIA


Jasper DE WAAL


Mees VOS



Gianluca CALISE

Julian POORE




Nicholas EASTOP





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De dimarts a dissabte de 10.00 a 13.30h

Dijous de 16.30 a 19.00

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