The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra shall be performing Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 for the first time in Malta. The programme also features Emma Bell in Wagner’s “Wesendonck Lieder”.

The connection between the two composers is well-documented – listening to Wagner’s music inspired Bruckner, then a church musician in a provincial monastery, to start writing symphonies. Ironically, although Wagner himself only completed one symphony in his lifetime, Bruckner’s fame, on the other hand, largely rests on his symphonies.

His fourth, the only one to which he attached a title, is one of his most popular. “Romantic” is a direct reference to the German artistic movement at the time and one of the main periods in musical history. The work opens with a one of the most taxing horn solos in the orchestral repertoire, reminiscing a hunting call.

Lawrence Renes conducting the MPO in “A Hero’s Life”

The concert will be under the direction of Dutch-Maltese conductor Lawrence Renes – returning at the helm of the MPO following their “worthy performance” of Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben last year. His affinity with Bruckner is critically acclaimed – he was lauded as “having the makings of a very fine Brucknerian” following a performance with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

This “cathedral of sound” presenting numerous brass chorales yet imbued with spirituality exemplifies the “Bruckner Problem” – the controversy surrounding the degree of authenticity in the composer’s frequent revisions. In fact, the composer, noted for his self-doubts, reworked the symphony on two occasions, 1878/80 and 1888.

The “Romantic” is complimented with the light yet enchanting “Wesendonck Lieder” set on poems written by Mathilde Wesendonck, alleged lover and patron of the composer. These five songs originally for voice and piano, present a marked difference to Wagner’s more renowned works, dense and grand in structure.

The concerts will take place on Saturday 26 January at 5.00PM at the Mediterranean Conference Centre. Tickets are sold on or from the MCC’s box office.