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.
Although symphonies with five movements such as Schumann's "Rhenish Symphony" are more common than those with three, any deviation from the conventional four-movement structure was considered unusual in Schumann's day. Beethoven's Pastorale and Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique had to some extent paved the way for the "Rhenish". Gustav Mahler was later to burst the traditional symphonic structure once and for all. The source of Schumann's inspiration for the solemn, chorale-like fourth movement was a visit to the Cologne Cathedral, where Schumann attended the installation of Archbishop Geissel as Cardinal. The ceremony seems to have made a deep impression on the composer, who had taken up the post of municipal director of music in Düsseldorf in 1850. The characteristic Rhenish zest for life also permeates the musical texture of the Third Symphony. In Schumann's own lifetime, it was by far the most successful of his four symphonies. The composer himself conducted the first performance in 1851.