East meets West in Turkish-inspired music by Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn.
The urbane Ottoman Empire inspired a fad for Turquerie that coloured art, fashion, pastries (croissants) and, of course, music. Beethoven’s overture to a play about the fall of Athens to the Ottomans opens a concert about Europe’s fascination with the great power to the east.
The Turkish twist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No.5 comes in the last movement, a hint of tongue-in-cheek exotica. The rest of the concerto sees Concertmaster Andrew Haveron spinning some of Mozart’s most operatic melodies, demonstrating why this is a beloved mainstay of the repertoire.
Although beginning with pastoral innocence, the second movement of Haydn’s ‘Military’ symphony erupts with Turkish cymbals and drums, a galvanising gesture in a time of war and revolutionary fervour. It was an unusually political statement for Haydn to make for his London audiences, but they loved this expansive and energetic symphony.