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The concert in Grafenegg served as a prelude for an all-encompassing European/Asian Tour taking place between September 6th and September 30th, consisting of some 16 concerts in eight cities located in five different countries. It began with our annual three appearances in residence at the Lucern Festival. On September 6, Zubin Mehta conducted Richard Strauss' "Don Quixote" featuring Tamás Varga and Christian Frohn as soloists, and the Symphony No. 4 of Johannes Brahms (along with the encores performed also in Grafenegg). Yefim Bronfman played the Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, op. 83, by Johannes Brahms on September 7th, with the second half of that evening comprised of Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra. For the encores this time, Zubin Mehta conducted two fast polkas of the Strauss dynasty: "Bahn frei" and "Unter Donner and Blitz" by Eduard and Johann Strauss, Jr. respectively. The third concert on September 8th consisted of Joseph Haydn's Symphony in B-flat major, Hob. I:98 and the "Great" C Major Symphony of Franz Schubert under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst, who graciously interrupted his vacation in order to substitute for Nikolaus Harnocourt, who was forced to cancel due to illness. The tour continued with two concerts at the BBC Proms at the London Royal Albert Hall. On September 10th, Franz Welser-Möst conducted the Haydn-Schubert Program from Lucerne and on the next day Zubin Mehta led the Passacaglia as well as "Don Quixote" and the Brahms "Fourth".
On September 12, the orchestra travelled to participate in the 14th "Vienna Philharmonic Week in Japan, which represented our 27th concert tour to this country. For the past 10 years, the "Vienna Philharmonic Week" has been presented by Suntory Ltd. in Suntory Hall, by the company president, Nobutada Gary Saji, who continues impressively the tradition of his father, Keizo Saji (1919-1999), the patron who built Suntory Hall and initiated the mutual cooperation with our orchestra.
This year's "Vienna Philharmonic Week" featured Zubin Mehta conducting our orchestra in this event for the second time, 1996 being the first. The "Vienna Philharmonic Week" consisted of nine concerts in four different cities, whereby the greater portion took place in Tokyo:
September 15 – Suntory HallRichard Strauss: "Don Quixote", op. 35 (Soloists: Tamás Varga, Christian Frohn)Richard Strauss: "Ein Heldenleben", op. 40 (Solo Violin: Volkhard Steude)Encores: Johann Strauss: "Annen-Polka", op. 117,Johann Strauss: "Tritsch-Tratsch". Polka schnell, op. 214
September 16 – Suntory Hall: Young People's ConcertLudwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 7, A major, op. 92
September 16 – Suntory HallBéla Bartók: Concerto for OrchestraLudwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 7, A major, op. 92Encore: Josef Hellmesberger: "Leichtfüßig". Polka schnell, o. op.This concert was a private performance for Daiwa House, the co-sponsor of this year's "Vienna Philharmonic Week in Japan".
September 17 – Suntory HallBéla Bartók: Concerto for OrchestraLudwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 7, A major, op. 92Encores: Josef Hellmesberger: "Leichtfüßig". Polka schnell, o. op.Johann Strauß: "Unter Donner und Blitz". Polka schnell, op. 324This concert was broadcast by the Japanese television broadcaster NHK.
September 19 – KawasakiRichard Strauss: "Don Quixote", op. 35 (Soloists: Tamás Varga, Christian Frohn)Richard Strauss: "Ein Heldenleben", op. 40 (Solo Violin: Volkhard Steude)Encore: Johann Strauß: "Wo die Citronen blüh'n". Walzer, op. 364
September 20 – Suntory HallAnton von Webern: Passacaglia for Orchester, op. 1Anton von Webern: Six Pieces for Orchestra, op. 6Anton von Webern: Concerto for Nine Instruments, op. 24Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 4, E minor, op. 98Encore: Johann Strauß: "Wo die Citronen blüh'n". Walzer, op. 364
September 22 – FukuokaAnton von Webern: Passacaglia for Orchestra, op. 1Anton von Webern: Six Pieces for Orchester, op. 6Anton von Webern: Concerto for Nine Instruments, op. 24Richard Strauss: "Ein Heldenleben", op. 40 (Solo Violin: Volkhard Steude)Encore: Johann Strauß: "Wo die Citronen blüh'n". Walzer, op. 364
September 23 – NishinomyiaJoseph Haydn: Symphony D major, No. 104, Hob.I:104, "12th London Symphony"Frédéric Chopin: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1, E minor, op. 11Richard Strauss: Ein Heldenleben, op. 40Eduard Strauß: "Bahn frei!" Polka schnell, op. 45
25. September 25 – Suntory HallProgram of September 23Encores: Johann Strauß: "Annen-Polka", op. 117 and Johann Strauß: "Unter Donner und Blitz". Polka schnell, op. 324
Along with these concerts were the traditional auxiliary events, which also regularly occur in Suntory Hall within the framework of the "Vienna Philharmonic Week". Our close relationship was confirmed by two invitations for the entire orchestra. In attendance at the welcoming banquet was the Honorary President Keiko Saji, widow of Keizo Saji. Concertmaster Volkhard Steude and Principal Cellist Tamás Varga, the celebrated protagonists of the Strauss tone poems, conducted master classes, and following the performance of Beethoven's "7th" for 2000 young people, Zubin Mehta gave his explanation of the work. In the large auditorium of Suntory Hall, Dr. Clemens Hellsberg gave the obligatory lecture presentation, which this year took the form of a "Homage to Joseph Haydn" which featured musical offerings by Dieter Flury, Albena Danailova (concertmaster of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra), Clemens Hellsberg, Jun Keller, Tobias Lea, Tamás Varga and Robert Nagy. The repertoire selected included works of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn's student, Ignaz Pleyel (1757-1831), as well as what is assumed to be the first performance in Japan of two dance movements by the Hapsburg emperor, Leopold I (1640-1705), who ruled between 1658 and 1705 and was a talented composer. Accompanied on the piano by René Staar, Albena Danailova performed the Menuett and Bourrée written by this composing royal.
The tour did not end with the "Vienna Philharmonic Week in Japan". On September 27th, for the second time in its history, the orchestra appeared in Shanghai. This guest appearance took place in the Oriental Arts Center, which was opened in 2005, and was recorded by the Chinese State Television Network, CCTV. Zubin Mehta conducted the Overture from Mozart's "Le nozze di Figaro", as well as the symphonies named above from Haydn and Brahms. Encores consisted of the "Chinese Galopp", op. 20, by Johann Strauss, Sr. as well as "Unter Donner und Blitz".When Zubin Mehta's suspicion of an impending illness became a reality shortly before the end of the tour, he was forced to cancel his participation in the final concert in Seoul on Sept. 29th, (as well as the first Philharmonic subscription concerts in Vienna scheduled for October 3rd and 4th, 2009). With the aid of the Askonas Holt Agency, Tugan Sokhiev, the principal conductor of the Orchestre National du Capitole Toulouse, was engaged for the concert in Seoul, without any program alterations and with only one rehearsal. Following Haydn's "London" Symphony in D major, Hob. I:104, the Korean soprano, Sumi Jo Arien, sang arias from Johann Strauss' operetta "Die Fledermaus" ("Mein Herr Marquis") and Giuseppi Verdi's "La Traviata" ("E strano - Sempre libera"). As an encore she performed "Ave Maria" from Caccini/Mercurio and the song "Oh Korea". Following Brahms' Symphony No. 4, the additional encores of Brahms' "Hungarian Dance No. 5" and the "Tritsch-Tratsch" Polka were performed, forming the conclusion of a lengthy and demanding tour.
For the tour orchestra there still remained four more concerts to be played after returning to Vienna. Following the first subscription concerts on October 3/4, at which time the afore-mentioned Tugan Sokhiev substituted for Zubin Mehta. For this we also express our gratitude to the Mariinski Theater in St. Petersburg and its Director Valery Gergiev, who released Sokhiev from a prior commitment to conduct a performance of "La Traviata".) The programs for the two following concerts were for the most part made up from the tour repertoire. On October 5th, Zubin Mehta conducted Belá Bartók's "Concert for Orchestra" and Brahms' 4th Symphony for the final evening of this year's Bruckner Festival in Linz. On the next day, for a concert of the Society of Friends of Music in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein, the orchestra performed Webern's "Passacaglia" and Bartók's "Concert for Orchestra". Between these two works, Lang Lang played the Piano Concerto in D-major, Hob. XVII:11, by Joseph Haydn.--Dr. Clemens Hellsberg