Belgian National Orchestra – Hugh Wolff conductor – Nelson Freire piano
Dances from Powder Her Face Thomas Adès
Piano Concerto no. 5, op. 73, "Emperor" Ludwig van Beethoven
The Rite of Spring Igor Stravinsky
Re: Beethoven - Scandalous stories! (in response to Beethoven's Third Symphony, "Eroica")
Polaroids of Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, naked (except for her pearl necklace) and giving a blowjob to an unknown man led to a storm of indignation in puritanical England. Her alleged lover, the Minister of Defence, was forced to resign. In Dances from Powder Her Face (1995) — Adès’ opera inspired by the life of the Duchess of Argyll — British tongue-in-cheek humour meets the turbulent rhythms of tango and jazz to reflect the irony of human fate: driven into poverty, the once decadent socialite can no longer pay for her shabby room.
The ballet Le Sacre du Printemps (1913) about the selfless sacrifice of a young virgin caused such a scandal on its opening night that it caused a riot, between the outraged bourgeoisie audience and the avant-garde. As the audience erupted, Diaghileff is said to have even flashed the house lights on and off to calm them down. Beethoven’s last piano concerto also met with a mixed reception when it was finally presented in Vienna. The music, which was far ahead of its time, did not appeal to the aristocratic ladies who had invited the composer to their charity event. Fortunately, times have since changed. The Grammy Award winner Nelson Freire performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 with imperial allure.