Lucas & Arthur Jussen, piano
Erik Nielsen, conductor
Thus Spoke Zarathustra, op. 30, TrV 176
Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, H 292
Friedrich Nietzsche came to Basel in 1869 at the age of 24, newly appointed professor of classical philology. Ten years later he left the city, «mentally ill» and at his own request. At 1800m above sea level, in the Engadine village of Sils Maria, Nietzsche temporarily finds his ideal landscape. «Genius is conditioned by dry air, by pure sky,» he defines and writes his bestseller Thus Spoke Zarathustra as if in a frenzy, which is then set to music by Richard Strauss with youthful enthusiasm.
Full of energy is also Martinůs Concerto for two pianos and orchestra, about whose explosive effect the Martinů biographer James Rybka wrote: «He uses the pianos like fighter planes fighting each other to create a whirlwind of excitement in the finale.»
Ravel remarked about his most successful work to his colleague Arthur Honegger: «I have only made one masterpiece, that is the Boléro; unfortunately it contains no music.» He is not entirely wrong: one single rhythmic model repeated 169 times in 15 minutes. The ecstatic force that results is unique.