The Philadelphia Orchestra in concert on WRTI: conductor Daniele Rustioni makes his debut with Mussorgsky and Beethoven

Opera music

Join us on Sunday April 24 at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1, and Monday April 25 at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD-2 when The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series brings you a performance from the Orchestra’s 2021/2022 season, recorded live in January.

italian conductor Daniele Rustioni makes its Philadelphia Orchestra debut with this concert, which opens with by Beethoven Leonore Overture #3 and ends with by Mussorgsky Photos of an exhibition as orchestrated by Maurice Ravel.

Between the two, the principal alto of the Philadelphia Orchestra Choong Jin Chang is a soloist in Desires, a concerto by a Philadelphia-based composer Ke Chia Chen.

Beethoventhe massive and varied production of includes a single opera, Fidelio. He struggled with his composition, and a lingering dilemma was the opera’s overture. He wrote four in total, the last of which is what we now call the Fidelio Opening. The first three are known as the first, second and third Leonore openings, after the work’s heroic female protagonist.

These survive as stand-alone concert works, and the third is the best, compressing all of the opera’s intense drama into a thrilling musical narrative.

Ke-Chia Chen composed his viola concerto Desires in 2006, a few years after moving to the United States from his native Taiwan to pursue higher education. Now based in Philadelphia, she writes in a style that blends the gestures of traditional Taiwanese folk music with Western genres. This performance of Desires features Choong-Jin Chang, principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2006.

Modest Mussorgsky originally written Photos of an exhibition for solo piano in 1874 to honor the memory of a dear friend, the painter Viktor Hartmann, who had died the previous year at age 39. Attending a retrospective exhibition of Hartmann’s works, the composer chose a selection of images to be represented in music, and devised the majestic theme of the “promenade” which depicts the viewer entering the exhibition, then passing from one picture to another.

Mussorgsky worked quickly on his tribute, producing the final score in just over three weeks. Ravel’s orchestration came much later – nearly 50 years after Mussorgsky’s original inspiration. It is this form of work that is most often practiced today.

Composer Ke-Chai Chen and violist CJ Chang chat with Susan Lewis of The Desires

Listen during the show for the producer Susan Lewis interview with Choong-Jin Chang and Ke-Chia Chen; and Mike Bolton interview with Daniele Rustioni.

There’s also a brief chamber music break in the Philadelphia Orchestra’s “Our City, Your Orchestra” online music video series, as three members of the Orchestra perform an arrangement of “O welche Lust” , Beethoven’s chorus of freed prisoners. Fidelio, in a poignant setting: a house that served as a stop for the Underground Railroad in the 19th century.

Detailed concert program notes.


Beethoven: Leonore Overture #3
KC Chen: Desires for viola and orchestra
Beethoven, arr. Kang: Fidelio: “O welche Lust”
Mussorgsky, orch. Fraying: Photos of an exhibition

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Daniele Rustioni, driver
Choong Jin Chang, alto
Juliet Kangviolin
Kristen Johnsonalto
Daniel Matsukawabassoon

Listen to the Philadelphia Orchestra in concert, every Sunday at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1, streaming on, on the WRTI mobile app, and on your favorite smart speaker. Listen again Mondays at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD-2. Listen up to two weeks after the broadcast on WRTI proofreading.