Six great composers, six landmark symphonies, a top orchestra and its star conductor Kent Nagano – these are the components of an extraordinary classical-music television event. Shot in High Definition, it takes a bold and innovative approach to the recording of classical music. Boom and tracking shots, quick cuts, remote-controlled cameras – stylistic means previously used chiefly for pop music recordings give the programs an up-to-the-minute look and feel. A team of more than 30 specialists makes
sure that viewers enjoy a truly cinematic experience. The programs also go new ways by featuring entertaining, historically founded animated sequences illustrating episodes from the lives of the composers. Backstage interviews with the musicians and excerpts from their rehearsals let us share in the spirit of their music-making. Conductor Kent
Nagano also relates what is of special importance to him in each work, and offers fascinating insights on the origin and context of the work in question. The main element of each episode is the live recording of a concert from the Berlin Philharmonie. Kent Nagano is one of the most successful and high-profile conductors of today. He has led all the major orchestras of New York, London, Berlin, Vienna, Paris... In 2000 he was named artistic director of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. In fall 2006 he succeeded Zubin Mehta as General Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera.
Composed during the summer months of the years 1884 and 1885 in Mürzzuschlag, southwest of Vienna, the Fourth Symphony tended to disconcert the public at first and had to prove itself in the concert circuit before gaining recognition as a masterwork of epoch-making stature. What Brahms's contemporaries regarded as difficult and bewildering were above all the extreme constructive density of the score, the unusual layout, especially of the third and fourth movements, a number of archaic elements pointing back to the formulae and techniques of "early music" (the passacaglia in the fourth movement) and the austere, elegiac mood that permeates the entire work. The premiere of the Fourth Symphony performed by the Meiningen Court Orchestra in Meiningen under Brahms's direction on 25 October 1885 was a great success. The work became the chief feature of the orchestra's ensuing tour, with Brahms conducting it in nine cities.