Matthew Bourne

Matthew Bourne

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No.8 in F major – Philharmonie Zuidnederland, Kevin John Edusei (HD 1080p)














The Philharmonie Zuidnederland conducted by Kevin John Edusei perform Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No.8 in F major, Op.93, at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, on December 3, 2017.



Ludwig van Beethoven completed his Eighth Symphony in 1812, and conducted the first performance at Vienna on February 27, 1814. The year 1812 was both eventful and productive for the very deaf but very famous Beethoven. In July, at Teplitz spa, he finally met the great Goethe (1749-1832), but was disappointed to find (in his opinion) an aging courtier who was neither a firebrand nor a fellow democrat, and furthermore a musical dilettante. In turn, Beethoven's power both as a person and as an artist impressed Goethe, but the old poet-playwright was fatigued by his high-pitched intensity and offended by a lack of manners bordering on rudeness.

Withal, Beethoven somehow made time in 1812 to compose a final Violin and Piano Sonata (Op.96), and to complete a new pair of symphonies. Nos. 7 and 8, begun in 1809 (the year of the Emperor Concerto), were related in much the way his Fifth and Sixth Symphonies had been. In 1813 he conducted the Dionysian Seventh to great acclaim, but saved the elfin Eighth for an 1814 concert where it was fatally sandwiched between the Seventh Symphony and Wellington's Victory, or the Battle of Vittoria. This last was adored by the audience in direct proportion to its awfulness, but they only sniffed at the Eighth.

Compared to the Seventh, No.8 is benign as well as brief. There are four movements, in all of which the old Classical forms are clearly delineated but somehow thrown out of balance by a constant barrage of curiously humorous distortions. Were the work not such an essentially lyrical joy, one might divine hints of the creative crisis to come for its maker. Its metronomic second movement (which is perhaps an actual tweaking of the recently invented metronome) has only 81 bars – the fewest in Beethoven's symphonic canon. The composer asked that the third movement be played Tempo di minuetto (in fact it is a Ländler), rather than at scherzo speed. The movement's heavy, graceless accents seem to poke fun at the courtly world only recently passed.The first and final movements are both written in sonata form, both marked Allegro vivace – con brio, too, in the first.

Beethoven reserved for the finale a leviathan-length coda, by then one of his musical signatures – 236 bars, only 30 fewer than the combined exposition, development, and reprise! The movement wears its complexity so lightly that its true subtlety may all too easily pass unnoticed. Sudden loud interruptions in a very remote key herald still more radical explorations in the development. Here, the main rondo theme is debated in counterpoint, with cross rhythms and unexpected harmonic twists. But the giant coda is only the last joke in a work of cloudless skies and merriment. As John N. Burk summed the work up in his evergreen Life and Works of Beethoven: "[His] humor seems to consist of sudden turns in the course of an even and lyrical flow, breaking in upon formal, almost archaic periods. It is a sudden irregularity, showing its head where all [had been] regular – an altered rhythm, an explosion of fortissimo, a foreign note or an unrelated tonality... like divine play in that pure region of tonal thinking [where] melody and invention pour forth... and fancy is furiously alive". Beethoven himself thought it one of his best Symphonies, while Robert Schumann praised its "profound humor" and wrote that the second movement particularly filled him with "tranquility and happiness".

Source: Roger Dettmer (allmusic.com)



Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

♪ Symphony No.8 in F major, Op.93 (1812)

i. Allegro vivace e con brio
ii. Allegretto scherzando
iii. Tempo di Menuetto
iv. Allegro vivace

Philharmonie Zuidnederland (South Netherlands Philharmonic)
Conductor: Kevin John Edusei

Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, December 3, 2017

(HD 1080p)


Photo by Marco Borggreve
Kevin John Edusei (b. 1976, Bielefeld, Germany) is one of today's most promising young conductors. He is known for his delicate, clear conducting which creates space for new nuances in a wide ranging repertoire from baroque to contemporary music.

Since the season 2014-2015 he brings exceptional new vision to the Münchner Symphoniker as their chiefconductor and has established a strong relationship with the audience.

Starting in the season 2015-2016 he also acts as chiefconductor at the Konzert Theater Bern where he has led the productions Peter Grimes, Ariadne auf Naxos, Salome, Herzog Blaubarts Burg, Le nozze di Figaro, Tannhäuser and Symphonie imaginaire, a new concert format that he has developed.

He first attracted international attention in 2008 when he won the first prize of the "International Dimitris Mitropoulos Competition" in Athens. Since then he has been invited as guest conductor by many prestigious orchestras as the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Bamberger Symphoniker, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the St Petersburg Philharmonic, the Tonkünstler-Orchester Wien, the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg and the Ensemble Modern. In the year 2017 he gave his USA debut with the Colorado Symphony and for the first time appeared with the Chineke! Orchestra at the BBC Proms.

Following his successful debut at the Semperoper Dresden with Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail in 2009 he took over Hindemith's Cardillac the year after. In 2013 he presented himself to the Viennese audience with Mozart's Magic Flute at the Volksoper Wien. At the Komische Oper Berlin Edusei took over the production of Don Giovanni. At the NTR ZaterdagMatinee at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam he led a spectacular concert performance of John Adams' Nixon in China in 2017.

Kevin collaborates closely with leading soloist as Jan Vogler, Albrecht Mayer, Christoph Prégardien, Arabella Steinbacher, Lauma Skride, Lise de la Salle, Edgar Moreau, David Orlowsky, Daniel Müller-Schott, Chen Reiss, Martin Stadtfeld, Nareh Arghamanyan, Anna Vinnitskaya and many others.

He was a prizewinner of the 2007 Lucerne Festival's conducting competition under the artistic direction of Pierre Boulez to conduct Stockhausens opus magnum Gruppen. During the Aspen Music Festival 2004 maestro David Zinman awarded him the fellowship for the American Academy of Conducting. Kevin John Edusei received important artistical guidance from maestros Jac van Steen, Kurt Masur, Jorma Panula, Sylvain Cambreling and Peter Eötvös.

Furthermore Kevin was awarded the "Dirigentenforum" stipend of the German Music Council, the fellowship of the International Ensemble Modern Academy and the stipend of the Deutsche Bank affiliated organization "Akademie Musiktheater heute".

Source: kevinjohnedusei.com













The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra (Philharmonie Zuidnederland) was formed in 1985 with the merger of three existing ensembles: the Utrecht Symphony Orchestra, the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. The latter had been founded in 1953 by conductor Anton Kersjes. He succeeded in broadening the appeal of classical music, partly through his regular television appearances and partly by programming the popular "warhorses" of the repertoire.

Kersjes did not just conduct; he enthralled his audience with the fascinating stories behind the music. His approach set the tone for the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra which has always been ‘the orchestra for everyone’.

Marc Albrecht has been chief conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and the Dutch National Opera since 2011 but the collaboration dates back to 2008 when Albrecht was invited to conduct the opera Die Frau ohne Schatten. "The mutual connection was so strong that we were able to make the impossible possible. At every performance there was a yearning to do it differently and even better." Marc Albrecht has certainly brought the Orchestra onto a higher plane but he remains down to earth. "Since I moved here I go everywhere on my bike!"

Marc Albrecht's arrival coincided with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra's move from the Beurs van Berlage to its new permanent headquarters, the NedPhO-Koepel. It is here that it rehearses for concerts at the Royal Concertgebouw, the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, the National Opera and many other major venues at home and abroad. "On the one hand, each member of the Orchestra should retain his or her individual identity. Everyone must be able to flourish and shine", says Albrecht. "On the other, these one hundred musicians should meld to form one harmonious whole. Everything forms part of the bigger picture, the grand story we are here to tell. Good musicians have a direct connection with the conductor, and a good conductor never loses contact with the musicians. They can play anything: I just have to invite them to do so!"

Since its formation in 1985, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra has also been the house orchestra of the Dutch National Opera. Chief conductor Hartmut Haenchen was the first to take on this unusual dual role. Under Albrecht's baton, the orchestra has made a huge impression with repertoire such as Schreker's Der Schatzgräber – the recording of which won an Edison Classical Music Award in December 2014 – and Der Rosenkavalier, which earned five-star reviews from the national press.

The Orchestra is widely regarded for its interpretation of the work of Gustav Mahler, which it frequently includes in its programmes. "The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra certainly has an affinity with the style of the late romantic period and the early twentieth century. The musicians understand Mahler's language", states Marc Albrecht. He and the Orchestra are also well known for their interpretations of other late romantic masters: Brahms and Bruckner on the concert platform, Strauss and Wagner in the opera house.

The Orchestra expanded its symphonic horizon with the appointment of the Russian-born American Yakov Kreizberg as its chief conductor in 2003. He introduced Slavic and Russian composers such as Dvořák and Stravinsky to the repertoire. Kreizberg died in 2011 at the tragically early age of 51.

Like Kreizberg, Marc Albrecht has a fondness for large-scale symphonic works, especially those which reflect the Orchestra's operatic connections. In 2014, he recorded Mahler's Symphony No.4, which includes a part for soprano. "The strings have the texture of a baby's skin while the brass parts are well shaped and never strained", enthused the music critic of De Volkskrant. "Conductor Marc Albrecht and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra deliver a perfect performance."

Source: orkest.nl







































More photos


See also

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Nine Symphonies, Coriolan & Egmont Overtures – Wiener Philharmoniker, Christian Thielemann (HD 1080p)

Friday, December 08, 2017

Joshua Cerdenia: Feuertrunken (Fire-Drunk) | Gustav Mahler: Symphony No.9 in D Major – Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin – Sunday, December 10, 2017, 03:00 PM EST (UTC-5) / 10:00 PM EET (UTC+2) – Live on Livestream













Leonard Slatkin conducts Detroit Symphony Orchestra in Joshua Cerdenia's Feuertrunken (Fire-Drunk) and Gustav Mahler's Symphony No.9 in D major.

Gustav Mahler said "A symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything". In Mahler’s Ninth and final full symphony, he created a world bridging the spaces between life, fate, and joy. It also takes its place among the "final ninths" of Beethoven, Schubert, and Dvořák; a musical autobiography reliving his exploration of love, longing, beauty, and inevitably, death, eventually fading away into the ether as a final farewell.

Sunday, December 10
Los Angeles:  12:00 PM
Detroit, New York, Toronto: 03:00 PM
London: 08:00 PM
Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Madrid, Rome: 09:00 PM
Kiev, Jerusalem, Athens: 10:00 PM
Moscow: 11:00 PM

Monday, December 11
Beijing: 04:00 AM
Tokyo: 05:00 AM

Find in my time zone

Live on Livestream



Joshua Cerdenia (b. 1989)

♪ Feuertrunken (Fire-Drunk) (2017) (World Premiere)


Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)

♪ Symphony No.9 in D Major (1909)

i. Andante comodo
ii. Im Tempo eines gemächlichen Ländlers. Etwas täppisch und sehr derb
iii. Rondo-Burleske: Allegro assai. Sehr trotzig
iv. Adagio. Sehr langsam und noch zurückhaltend


Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Leonard Slatkin

(HD 720p)

Live from Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit

Sunday, December 10, 2017, 03:00 PM EST (UTC-5) / 10:00 PM EET (UTC+2)

Live on Livestream


Leonard Slatkin
















Joshua Cerdenia: Feuertrunken (Fire-Drunk)

Feuertrunken is a loud meditation (if one can meditate loudly) on joy. In the months that I spent composing the piece, between March-June 2017, I found little cause for celebration in the many goings-on both locally and abroad; perhaps this was the reason I thought the subject of joy had so much urgency.

During this time I also found myself absorbed in the Divine Comedy, especially the Purgatorio: Dante's vision of purgatory is a giant mountain partitioned into seven terraces, each devoted to purification from one of the deadly sins. Dante ascends the mountain terrace by terrace, until at last he finds a great wall of fire between him and paradise. An angel of God encourages him to make the plunge into his final trial. Though my piece as a whole is not programmatic (meaning musical events generally do not correspond to anything in Dante's story), there is a brief interlude in which I imagine Dante in devoted silence before he submits to the fire.

The title, meaning "fire-drunk" or "drunk with fire", is of course from Friedrich Schiller's famous "Ode to Joy": "We enter, drunk with fire, Heavenly One, your sanctuary". I thought some reference to Beethoven was the obvious route; instead I chose Mahler, whose music I think conveys joy so adeptly. Feuertrunken quotes the opening of Mahler's First Symphony before veering off into various, intertwined episodes of supplication, blasphemy, and finally, praise.

Instrumentation: Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets in B flat, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets in C, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (3 players: almglocken, bass drum, 2 bongos, chimes, China cymbal, glockenspiel, snare drum, suspended cymbal, tam-tam, tambourine, wind chimes, xylophone), harp, strings.

Duration: 10 minutes.

Source: Joshua Cerdenia (joshuacerdenia.com)



Gustav Mahler: Symphony No.9 in D Major

In 1907, the year after Mahler completed his grandiose Eighth Symphony, he suffered three hammer-blows. His favourite daughter, Putzi, died of diphtheria, he resigned his post as director of the Vienna Court Opera after a bitter struggle with an anti-Semitic cabal, and a routine health check-up diagnosed a lesion in a heart valve. This would lead to the bacterial endocarditis that killed him four years later.

Mahler was stunned into temporary creative silence. He wrote to his assistant, Bruno Walter, "Quite simply at a stroke I lost all the clarity and assurance I ever achieved... I stood vis-à-vis de rien [faced with nothingness] and now at the end of life I must learn to walk and stand as a beginner".

As always one shouldn't take Mahler's words too literally. The following summer he composed his greatest song-cycle "Das Lied von der Erde", at tremendous speed, and it's hardly the stumbling effort of a tyro; in fact the delicacy of the orchestral writing reaches a new pitch of refinement. It's the remark about being "faced with nothingness" which is really significant. This song-cycle and the Ninth Symphony that followed it in the summer of 1909 are death-haunted works.

But there's nothing morbid about the Ninth Symphony. Mahler wrote at the time "I am thirstier for life than ever", and his great admirer Alban Berg said the symphony is "the expression of an unheard-of love for this earth, the longing to live in peace upon her... before death comes". How well that description captures the very opening of the Symphony, which steals into existence: a throbbing note on a cello, answered by the same note on a horn (imitating Mahler's unsteady heart-beat, according to Leonard Bernstein); then some deep bass notes on the harp, and a kind of summer rustling in the violas. Out of this quasi-modernist uncertainty a mood of beautiful resignation suddenly blooms, as the violins begin their melody.

The half-hour of music which then unfolds is surely Mahler's greatest single movement. It reveals in a lovely slow outpouring the well-springs of Mahler's nature: the idea of nature, a child-like innocence (with a pentatonic flavour harking back to the Chinese ambience of Das Lied), and most of all the idea of farewell – "Lebewohl". The word is inscribed many times on the score, and that opening melody, recalling Beethoven's Les Adieux (Farewell) Sonata, seems to whisper it. Later this melody transmogrifies into a quotation from a waltz suite of Johann Strauss – significantly entitled Freuet Euch des Lebens (Enjoy Life).

Typically, Mahler then brings us down to earth with a bump, with a pair of brusque "parody" movements. The first is an odd mix of rustic slow waltz and a much quicker "urban" waltz. The switchbacks between these worlds is done with Mahler's usual skill, but the musical invention isn't especially fine. Even more problematic is the whirling Rondo-Burleske movement. Some praise this as the most extreme point of nihilism in Mahler's output. But there ought to be a firm line between expressing banality and simply being banal, and in this movement I can't always discern it – not even when the tumult gives way to a "heavenly" foretaste of the last movement.

This finale is as striving and agonised as the opening movement was serene. It begins with an evocation of Bruckner's "heavenly" adagio style, complete with an ecclesiastical closing phrase, which frankly is too close to the Austrian master for comfort. And it relies too much on the Italian melodic "turn", which is stretched and squeezed without mercy. But it's also full of amazing things, such as the high violin line inching along over a low bass with nothing in between, in an uncanny premonition of Shostakovich's late style.

The most striking originality of this movement is the way it builds to a "catastrophe" which – as the philosopher Theodor Adorno shrewdly put it – sounds as if it had "secretly always been known, and nothing else were expected". Like Das Lied, the work ends in a hugely long-drawn-out close, but whereas that piece subsided into ecstatic oblivion, this one ends – to quote Adorno again – by "looking questioningly into uncertainty". It was the last symphony he was to complete.

Source: Ivan Hewett, 17/12/2010 (telegraph.co.uk)












More photos


See also

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No.9 in D Major – Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Jacek Kaspszyk (HD 1080p)

Live on Livestream: All Past Events

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

500,000 visits to the Blog!

Photo by Carlos M. Almagro *

















500,000 visits to the Blog!

Thank you


* Carlos M. Almagro, 3rd Place, Spain National Award, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

Ilya Rashkovskiy plays Robert Schumann: Symphonic Etudes, Frédéric Chopin: 3 Mazurkas, & Igor Stravinsky: Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka – XIII Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, 2011 / Stage I














Russian pianist Ilya Rashkovskiy performs Robert Schumann's Symphonic Etudes, Op.13, Frédéric Chopin's 3 Mazurkas, Op.59, & Igor Stravinsky's Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka. Recorded at the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, on May 13, 2011.

Since its inception in 1974, the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition is one of the foremost Piano Competitions in the world. Arthur Rubinstein, who gave his blessing to the competition, headed the jury of the first two competitions (1974 & 1977). The competition is held every three years in Tel Aviv, Israel.



Robert Schumann: Symphonic Etudes, Op.13

The Symphonic Etudes (French: Études Symphoniques), Op.13, is a group of piano etudes published by Robert Schumann in 1837. The theme on which they were crafted had been sent to Schumann by Baron von Fricken, guardian of Ernestine von Fricker, who had been Schumann's fiancee at one point. The final, twelfth, published etude was a variation on the theme from the Romance Du stolzes England freue dich, from Heinrich Marschner's opera Der Templer und die Jüdin, which was based on Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe (as a tribute to Schumann's English friend, William Sterndale Bennett). The earlier Fricken theme occasionally appears briefly during this étude. A good number of these Etudes were conceived as variations, and so, fifteen years later, a second edition of the work saw the pieces that did not correspond to the variation form eliminated from the set. Some revisions were made to the piano writing as well. The highly virtuosic demands of the piano writing are frequently aimed not merely at effect but at clarification of the polyphonic complexity and at delving more deeply into keyboard experimentation. The Etudes are considered to be one of the most difficult works for piano by Schumann (together with his Fantasie in C major, Op.17) and in piano literature as a whole. On republishing the set in 1890, Johannes Brahms restored the five variations that had been cut by Schumann. These are now often played, but in positions within the cycle that vary somewhat with each performance; there are now twelve variations and these five so-called "posthumous" variations which exist as a supplement.

Source: musopen.org



Frédéric Chopin: 3 Mazurkas, Op.59

Although Chopin spent most of his adult life Paris, his roots were Polish. In homage to his homeland, he developed two genres of music, the polonaise and the mazurka. The mazurka takes much of its form from the native folk songs and dances of Poland, specifically the Mazur, the Kujawiak, and the Oberek. The unusual rhythmic patterns and irregular accents provided the basis for 57 mazurkas in total, each unique in character and texture. Because of the different sources of inspiration for the mazurka, each piece is a different combination of several ingredients of rhythm, harmony, tempo, and mood. This particular genre, more than any other, encouraged Chopin to revise and experiment freely. Unlike many of his other mazurkas collections, the pieces of Op.59 do not contrast greatly amongst themselves. They share similar characteristics and textures, perhaps meant to unify the collection. The first piece in the set is highly chromatic, warm and rich in melodic and contrapuntal nuances. It serves as a tender portrait, the ending as unassuming as the opening. Pleasant and good-natured in its character, the second mazurka features a rich exchange between hands, a hallmark of Chopin's mature style. This piece ends with an ascending, winding lyrical line, which seems to disappear into the clouds. Resembling a polonaise, the third composition is noble and waltz-like in character. Having experimented with different contrapuntal devices, Chopin includes chromaticism, as well as some interesting descending chromatic chords in the accompaniment. While much interesting harmonic material is found in the lower voices, this particular composition is defined by the unaffected, expressive singing melody appears to be unaffected, soaring above the texture below.

Source: Kristen Grimshaw (allmusic.com)



Igor Stravinsky: Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka

It was mostly at the urging of then 34 year old pianist Arthur Rubinstein (the "urging" was really an offer of 5000 francs – serious money for a composer reeling from the effects of the First World War) that, in 1921, Igor Stravinsky set about converting three portions of his already famous ballet Petrushka into a three-movement vehicle for solo piano. And yet, despite the lavish attention to orchestral detail that fills every measure of the ballet, it is not at all difficult to imagine the work in pianistic terms: Stravinsky's first sketches of Petrushka (from the summer of 1910) took the form of a concerto for piano and orchestra, and it was only at the urging of impresario Diaghilev that he rerouted his energies into a theatrical vein and produced the work that now is so well-known. Strangely enough, Rubinstein never recorded these Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka, though accounts of his many live performances of the piece testify to his close sympathy with the music.

The three numbers that Stravinsky selected to arrange are, in the order they appear, the "Russian Dance" from the end of the first tableau, "Petrushka's Cell" from the second tableau, and, incorporating almost all of the fourth tableau (including the ending published in the 1947 revision of the ballet), "The Shrove-tide Fair". Everywhere the pianism is brilliantly choreographed (the work is certainly tremendously difficult to bring off, but always packs a wallop when done well), and the transcription to the keyboard is carried out with a finesse not usually encountered in a composer's translation of his own music (usually a certain amount of distance, psychologically speaking, is helpful in successfully carrying out such a translation; hence Franz Liszt's many spectacular piano transcriptions of music utterly foreign to his own compositional style): here is no mere "piano reduction", but rather a full-blown, independent concert work in which the electric, vaguely symmetrical sixteenth-note figurations and sharp orchestral articulations of the "Russian Dance" are reforged into a demanding test of finger dexterity (the "Russian Dance", in its original orchestral form, is actually reinforced by a dramatic, nonstop use of the piano) and, later on, the famous oscillating contrary thirds of strings and woodwinds that open "The Shrove-tide Fair" (clearly originally conceived of at the piano) are translated into a shimmering and wholly idiomatic keyboard figuration that is almost – but not quite – the equal of its orchestral counterpart.

Source: Blair Johnston (allmusic.com)


XIII Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, 2011 / Stage I



Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

♪ Symphonic Etudes, Op.13 (1834)

i. Theme – Andante
ii. Etude I (Variation 1) – Un poco più vivo
iii. Etude II (Variation 2) – Andante
iv. Etude III – Vivace
v. Etude IV (Variation 3) – Allegro marcato
vi. Etude V (Variation 4) – Scherzando
vii. Etude VI (Variation 5) – Agitato
viii. Etude VII (Variation 6) – Allegro molto
ix. Etude VIII (Variation 7) – Sempre marcatissimo
x. Etude IX – Presto possibile
xi. Etude X (Variation 8) – Allegro con energia
xii. Etude XI (Variation 9) – Andante espressivo
xiii. Etude XII (Finale) – Allegro brillante (based on Marschner's theme)




Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)

♪ 3 Mazurkas, Op.59 (1845)

No.1 in A minor
No.2 in A flat major
No.3 in F sharp minor




Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)

♪ Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka (1921)

i. Danse Russe
ii. Chez Petrouchka
iii. La semaine grasse


Ilya Rashkovskiy, piano

Tel Aviv Museum of Art, May 13, 2011

(HD 720p)















Ilya Rashkovskiy (b. 1984, Irkutsk, Russia) is the first prize winner of the following competitions: the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition (first prize and Public Prize, Japan, 2012), the Citta di Pinerolo Competition (Italy, 2012), the International Jaen Competition (Spain, 2005), and at the Hong Kong International Competition (2005). He is among the top prize winners of the Long – J. Thibaud Competition in Paris (2nd Place), Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels (4th Place) and Artur Rubinstein Piano Masters in Tel Aviv (3rd Place).

When he was only five years old, Ilya Rashkovskiy began to play piano. A year later, he began to compose. At the age of eight, he gave his first concert with the Irkusk Chamber Orchestra. From 1993 to 2000 he studied at the Novosibirsk State Conservatory with Professor Mary Lebenzon. From 2000 to 2009 he studied at the Musikhochschule in Hannover with Professor Vladimir Krainev and finally at the École Normale Supérieure Alfred Cortot in Paris with Professor Marian Rybicki.

Passionate about orchestra conducting and composition, he followed the teachings of Dominique Rouits and Michel Merlet.

Ilya performed in several prestigious concert venues throughout the world, such as the Théatre du Châtelet, the Salle Playel, the Cologne Philharmonic Hall, the Essen Philharmonic Hall, the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, the Suntory Hall in Tokyo. He was invited to perform at the Joy of Music Festival in Hong Kong, the International Piano Festival in La Roque d'Anthéron and the International Chopin Festival in Duszniki-Zdroj (Poland).

He collaborated as a soloist with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Orchestre national de Lille, the Gulbenkian Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Belgium, the Maastricht Symphony Orchestra, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, the Romanian National Orchestra, the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, the New Japan Symphony Orchestra, the State Academic Orchestra of the Russian Federation, the National Philharmonic of Ukraine and the Montevideo Symphony Orchestra among many others.

In 2016, he gave several concerts in Russia, notably with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra in Saint Petersburg. He also participated in the gala concert organized as a tribute to Sergei Prokofiev at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall of the Moscow State Philharmonic Society. Furthermore, he recently performed at the Verdi Hall in Milan as well as the Salle Gaveau in Paris.

Ilya Rashkovskiy is a great chamber music admirer and he gladly shares the stages with violinists such as Ji-Yoon Park, Valeriy Sokolov and Andrej Bielow. He also collaborates with singers such as Brigitte Balleys and Orianne Moretti.

He is also actively engaged in fostering younger talents and has given master classes on several occasions in Hong Kong, New Zealand and France. He has been invited as a judge at International Piano Competition Animato for last three editions in Paris.

His last CD with the works of Russian composers (Mussorgsky, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky) was released in October 2016 (La Musica, France). In 2015, he recorded A. Scriabin's complete piano sonatas in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of composers's death (NAR, Japan). He also recorded the Seasons and Sonata in C sharp minor by Tchaikovsky (Naxos Label, 2008), Fantasies by Mozart, Chopin, Liszt and Scriabin (Alpha Omega Music Hong Kong, 2009), as well as Chopin's Complete Études in 2013 (Victor Japan).

Source: ilyarashkovskiy.com


Arthur Rubinstein in 1970 © Eva Rubinstein
Arthur Rubinstein (January 28, 1887, Lodz, Poland – December 20, 1982, Geneva, Switzerland)

One of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, Rubinstein was gifted enough to recognize the technical shortcomings of his extrovert, youthful playing, and to re-learn his repertoire in mid-life, adding control and discipline to the natural flair that had made his reputation. Linked to the 19th-century Romantics through his champion Joseph Joachim, he nevertheless established a modern, clean-cut and unaffected style of pianism, while, in the music of Brahms and Chopin in particular, retaining a warmth of tone and manner. As well as his solo appearances, he gave frequent chamber music recitals and continued to perform in public until the age of nearly ninety.

2017 marks the 15th edition of the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, named in honor of one of the 20th century's greatest pianists and founded by one of his friends, Jan Jacob Bistritzky, in 1974. Taking place every three years in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, the competition aims to discover talented young pianists. During its 43 year history, it has become one of the world's most influential piano competitions, and includes among its past prizewinners some of today's most important artists, from Emanuel Ax, who won the very first competition, to Daniil Trifonov, the 2011 winner.















More photos

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.6 in B minor, "Pathétique" – MusicAeterna, Teodor Currentzis (Download 96kHz/24bit & 44.1kHz/16bit)






















Entitled the "Pathétique", Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony has always been an important work in Teodor Currentzis's conducting career, since being deeply affected as a teenager by a recording conducted by Evgeny Mravinsky. Later on, Currentzis would study with Mravinsky's former classmate Ilya Musin, who was renowned for his authoritative interpretation of Russian repertoire and his legacy of gifted protégés.

Currentzis holds strong views on the Symphony and sees universal meaning in Tchaikovsky's intent. As he explains:

"There are people who, after experiencing a fall, after surviving defeat, find some kind of special place, a special sanctuary. Their place amid the confusion of this world. If they fall repeatedly, then this refuge gradually becomes more and more familiar: it regales them with the sensuality that is lacking in the world above. The first time one is stabbed with a knife, it hurts; the second time, it is borne more easily; the third time, in order that one may survive, it becomes a piece of art. There are no aesthetics when it comes to open wounds. What I want to bring to this music is not the strong emotionality or the big sound or the excellent form. The thing that I want to bring is the ‘flower of the wound’, the perfection of 110 musicians gathering to have a ceremony for the wounds we endure, not to merely play a concert. It is completely different. Not taking it in objectively as a kind of performance of this music, but as something else. To talk about our wounds and our experiences. So this is very important."


Teodor Currentzis (Photo by Nina Vorobyova)
















Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

♪ Symphony No.6 in B minor, Op.74 "Pathétique" (1893)


i. Adagio – Allegro non troppo

ii. Allegro con grazia
iii. Allegro molto vivace
iv. Finale. Adagio lamentoso

MusicAeterna
Conductor: Teodor Currentzis

Cover image © Markus Probst

Recorded at Funkhaus Nalepastraße, Berlin, February 9-15, 2015

Sony Classical 2017


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Photo by Nina Vorobyova
Teodor Currentzis is the Artistic Director of the Perm State Opera and Ballet Theatre, Artistic Director of the ensemble musicAeterna and of the musicAeterna Chamber Choir, both formed in 2004, during his tenure as Music Director of the Novosibirsk State Opera and Orchestra (2004-2010). In 2017-2018 Teodor will be the Chief Conductor Designate of the SWR Symphony Orchestra and from 2018-2019, will be the Chief Conductor.

MusicAeterna, now resident in Perm, has been granted the status of the first orchestra of Perm State Theatre of Opera and Ballet. In 2017-2018, Teodor will travel across Europe with musicAeterna performing in the most prestigious venues, including Vienna Konzerthaus and the Musikverein, Berlin Philharmonie, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, Paris Philharmonie, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden and La Scala in Milan. Programmes include semi-staged performances of Mozart's La clemenza di Tito and Puccini's La bohème as well as programmes of Schostakovich's Piano Concerto No.2 and Mozart's Piano Concerto in G with Alexander Melnikov. Teodor will also make his debut at Dutch National Opera with MusicAeterna and Peter Seller's production of La clemenza di Tito. Further engagements include Tonhalle Orchestra with Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Camerata Salzburg, SWR Symphony and Philharmonia Zurich with Helene Grimaud.

Past highlights of Teodor's career include: Resident Artist at the Vienna Konzerthaus beginning 2016-2017 including concerts with Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg and MusicAeterna; a tour with Mahler Chamber Orchestra of Berio's Coro; Clemenza di tito and Mozart's Requiem at Salzburg Festival, Verdi's Macbeth at Zurich Opera with Barrie Kosky (2016);  Wagner's Das Rheingold with MusicAeterna Orchestra (2015, RUHRtriennale in Bochum); Tchaikovsky's Iolanta and Stravinsky's Persephone at Aix Festival (2015) which premiered in Madrid in 2012; Purcell's The Indian Queen in Madrid (2012); Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District in Zurich (2012) and Weinberg's The Passenger with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra in Bregenz (2010).

As Artistic Director of Perm Opera, Teodor has commissioned several important new works, including Phillipe Hersants' Tristia (2016), Dmitrii Kourliandski's opera Nosferatu (2014), Alexei Syumak's opera Cantos (2016), and a violin concerto by Sergey Nevsky (2015).

Teodor Currentzis and MusicAeterna are exclusive Sony artists and have released the Mozart-Da Ponte trilogy, Stravinsky's Les Noces and Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, with Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Previous recordings include Shostakovich's Symphony No.14, Mozart's Requiem and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas all on the Alpha label and the Shostakovich Piano Concertos with Alexander Melnikov and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra on the Harmonia Mundi label. In 2017, they will release Tchaikovsky's Symphony No.6, and thereafter Mahler's Symphony No.6. MusicAeterna plans to record and release all nine Beethoven Symphonies ahead of the 2020 Beethoven anniversary.

In 2017, ECHO Klassik awarded the DVD/Blu-ray production of Purcell's Indian Queen, directed by Peter Sellers, with Teodor and MusicAeterna, following on from a previous ECHO Klassik award in 2016 for "Symphonic Recording (20th/21st century music)" for their recording of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps, both released on Sony Classical. In 2012, Teodor and his brother Vangelino Currentzis, recorded and composed the soundtrack of the European Games opening ceremony in Baku and were nominated for an Emmy Award, in the category of Outstanding Music Direction and Composition. Teodor Currentzis was awarded the Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation in 2008, and was the recipient of the Toepfer Foundation's prestigious Kairos Award in 2016. The same year, Opernwelt named Teodor Currentzis Best Conductor of the Year for his Macbeth at Zurich Opera.

Teodor has so far been awarded seven Golden Masks – Russia's prestigious theatre award – most recently in 2017 as Best Opera Conductor for La Traviata, a Perm Opera production directed by Robert Wilson. Previous awards include the Best Opera Conductor award (Wozzeck, Bolshoi 2009), for a "brilliant performance of Prokofiev's score" (Cinderella, 2007) and for "outstanding results in the area of authentic performance" (The Marriage of Figaro, 2008).

In 2006, combining his knowledge and passion for early music with contemporary composers and new music, Teodor started the Territoria Modern Art Festival, which in a short space of time has become the most prestigious and progressive annual music festival in Moscow. Since 2012, Teodor has also curated the Diaghilev Festival, held in the home of the composer's birth town in Russia.

Born in Greece in 1972, Russia has become Teodor's home since the beginning of the 1990s, when he began studying conducting at the state conservatory of St Petersburg, under the tutelage of Professor Ilya Musin, whose pupils, among others, were renowned conductors Odyseuss Dimitriadis, Valery Gergiev, and Semyon Bychkov.

Teodor Currentzis was awarded the Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation in 2008, and was the recipient of the Toepfer Foundation's prestigious Kairos Award in 2016. The same year, Opernwelt named Teodor Currentzis Best Conductor of the Year for his Macbeth at Zurich Opera.

Source: teodor-currentzis.com


Photo by Nina Vorobyova
















See also

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D major | Igor Stravinsky: Les Noces – Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Nadine Koutcher, MusicAeterna, Teodor Currentzis (Download 96kHz/24bit)

Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No.1 in E flat major, & Symphony No.1 in F minor | Benjamin Britten: Sinfonietta, Op.1 – Steven Isserlis, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Teodor Currentzis (HD 1080p)

Friday, December 01, 2017

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D major | Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.10 in E minor – Karen Gomyo, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Mark Wigglesworth – Saturday, December 2, 2017, 08:00 PM EST (UTC-5) / Sunday, December 3, 2017, 03:00 AM EET (UTC+2) – Live on Livestream

Karen Gomyo


















Under the baton of the distinguished English conductor Mark Wigglesworth, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performs – with the Tokyo-born virtuoso violinist Karen Gomyo – theViolin Concerto in D major, Op.35, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No.10 in E minor, Op.93.

Dimitri Shostakovich shifted in and out of favor with the authorities of Stalin's Soviet Union for much of his career. Compositions that ran afoul of the government's wishes were followed by contrite apologies through new works of nationalist pride, often praised by Stalin himself. After a life of being censored and scrutinized, many believe his dissent of Stalin and the Soviet government are covertly woven throughout his music. His Tenth Symphony was written shortly after Stalin's death. At times dark and brooding, at others blazing with relentless speed, Shostakovich described the work as a portrait of the dictator's years in power.

Saturday, December 2
Los Angeles: 05:00 PM
Detroit, New York, Toronto: 08:00 PM

Sunday, December 3
London: 01:00 AM
Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Madrid, Rome: 02:00 AM
Kiev, Jerusalem, Athens: 03:00 AM
Moscow: 04:00 AM
Beijing: 09:00 AM
Tokyo: 10:00 AM

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Live on Livestream



Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

♪ Violin Concerto in D major, Op.35 (1878)

i. Allegro moderato
ii. Canzonetta. Andante
iii. Finale. Allegro vivacissimo

Karen Gomyo, violin


Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

♪ Symphony No.10 in E minor, Op.93 (1953)

i. Moderato
ii. Allegro
iii. Allegretto
iv. Andante – Allegro


Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Mark Wigglesworth

(HD 720p)

Live from Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit

Saturday, December 2, 2017, 08:00 PM EST (UTC-5) / Sunday, December 3, 2017, 03:00 AM EET (UTC+2)

Live on Livestream


Born in Tokyo in 1982 and having grown up in Montréal and New York, violinist Karen Gomyo has recently made Berlin her home.

A musician of the highest calibre, the Chicago Tribune praised her as "...a first-rate artist of real musical command, vitality, brilliance and intensity...".

In Europe, Karen has most recently performed with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Bamberg Symphony, Danish National Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Radio France, Residentie Orkest, Stuttgart Radio Symphony, Vienna Chamber Orchestra and WDR Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester in Cologne.

Already strongly established in North America, Karen regularly performs with orchestras such as the Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Houston Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra Ottawa (NACO), National Symphony in Washington, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony among others.

Highlights of the 2017-2018 season will include a recital at the Sydney Opera House, a tour with Edo de Waart and the New Zealand Symphony, followed by performances with WASO Perth and the Tasmanian Symphony. Karen will make her debut with the Kristiansand Symfoniorkester, and will also return to St Louis Symphony, NACO, and the symphony orchestras of Milwaukee, Montreal, Cincinnati, Detroit and Indianapolis among others. Karen also performs in chamber music at the Louisiana Museum in Denmark, as part of her annual visit on their series.

Strongly committed to contemporary works, Karen performed the North American premiere of Matthias Pintscher's Concerto No.2 "Mar'eh" with the composer conducting the National Symphony Orchestra, as well as Peteris Vasks' Vox Amoris with the Lapland Chamber Orchestra conducted by John Storgårds, and has collaborated in chamber music compositions with Jörg Widmann, Olli Mustonen, and Sofia Gubaidulina.

Karen has had the privilege of working with such conductors as Sir Andrew Davis, Jaap van Zweden, Leonard Slatkin, Neeme Järvi, David Robertson, David Zinman, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Louis Langrée, Karina Canellakis, Thomas Dausgaard, James Gaffigan, Pinchas Zukerman, Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla, Hannu Lintu, Vasily Petrenko, Jakub Hruša, Cristian Macaleru, Thomas Søndergård and Mark Wigglesworth.

In recital and chamber music, Karen has performed in festivals throughout the USA and Europe. She recently toured with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and fellow guest artist, the mezzo-soprano Susan Graham. Her chamber music collaborators have included the late Heinrich Schiff, Christian Poltéra, Alisa Weilerstein, Leif Ove Andsnes, Olli Mustonen, Kathryn Stott, Christian Ihle Hadland, Antoine Tamestit, Isabelle Van Keulen, and Lawrence Power. In 2018 she appears at the Seattle Chamber Festival and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville, Australia.

Karen is deeply interested in the Nuevo Tango music of Astor Piazzolla, and performs with Piazzolla's longtime pianist and tango legend Pablo Ziegler and his partners Hector del Curto (bandoneon), Claudio Ragazzi (electric guitar) and Pedro Giraudo (double bass). She also performs regularly with the Finnish guitarist Ismo Eskelinen, with whom she has appeared at the Dresden and Mainz Festivals in Germany, and in recitals in Helsinki and New York.

NHK Japan recently produced a documentary film produced by NHK Japan about Antonio Stradivarius called "The Mysteries of the Supreme Violin", in which Karen is violinist, host, and narrator, was broadcast worldwide on NHK WORLD.

Karen plays on the "Aurora, ex-Foulis" Stradivarius violin of 1703 that was bought for her exclusive use by a private sponsor.

Source: karengomyo.com (July 2017)


Born in Sussex, England, in 1964, Mark Wigglesworth studied music at Manchester University and conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in London. A few weeks after leaving the Academy, he won the Kondrashin International Conducting Competition in the Netherlands, and since then has worked with many of the world's leading orchestras and opera companies.

In April 2014, the English National Opera announced that Mr. Wigglesworth would be the company's next Music Director, beginning in September 2015.

In 1992 he became Associate Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and further appointments included Principal Guest Conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Highlights of his time with BBC NOW included several visits to the BBC Proms, a performance of Mahler's Tenth Symphony at the prestigious Amsterdam Mahler Festival in 1995, and a six-part television series for the BBC entitled Everything To Play For.

In addition to working with most of the UK's orchestras, Mark Wigglesworth has guest conducted many of Europe's finest ensembles, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, La Scala Filarmonica, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Orchestra, Stockholm Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony, Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg and the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

Equally busy in North America, Mr. Wigglesworth has worked with the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago and Boston symphonies, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the San Francisco, Montreal, Detroit, Toronto, Vancouver and Cincinnati symphonies. He is a regular guest at the Minnesota Orchestra and has an on-going relationship with the New World Symphony.

Mark Wigglesworth began his operatic career as Music Director of Opera Factory, London. Since then he has worked regularly at Glyndebourne (Peter Grimes, La Bohème, Le nozze di Figaro); Welsh National Opera (Elektra, The Rake's Progress, Tristan und Isolde, Così fan tutte); and English National Opera (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Così fan tutte, Falstaff, Katya Kabanova, Parsifal). He has conducted at the Netherlands Opera (Peter Grimes); La Monnaie in Brussels (Mitridate, Wozzeck, Pelléas et Mélisande); the Sydney Opera House (Peter Grimes); New York's Metropolitan Opera (Le nozze di Figaro); and the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg).

In the recording studio, Mr. Wigglesworth's recordings have centered around a project with BIS Records to record all the symphonies of Shostakovich, a cycle which has received critical acclaim throughout the world. Other recordings include live performances of Mahler's Sixth and Tenth Symphonies issued by the Melbourne Symphony on the MSO Live label, Peter Grimes from the Glyndebourne Festival, Don Giovanni from the Sydney Opera House, a disc of English music with the Sydney Symphony, and most recently the two Brahms Piano Concertos with Stephen Hough and the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra.

Internationally, recent and upcoming performance highlights include returns to Covent Garden (Kurt Weill's Mahagonny), a new production of Britten's Owen Wingrave for the Aldeburgh Festival, appearances with the Tokyo Symphony, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Sydney and Melbourne symphony orchestras, as well as debuts with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Flemish Philharmonic and Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo.

Source: cmartists.com (June 2014)


Karen Gomyo




















Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D major, Op.35

Tchaikovsky composed the Violin Concerto in D major in 1878. At Clarens, near Geneva, following both his mistake of a marriage and his suicide attempt, Tchaikovsky completed both Onegin and the Fourth Symphony early in 1878. After a round trip to Moscow in February for the Symphony's premiere, he was visited at Clarens by the violinist Yosif Kotek. Tchaikovsky, in fondness for Kotek, sketched out a violin concerto in just 11 days and had finished scoring it two weeks later, including a new slow movement in place of one that both Kotek and Tchaikovsky's younger brother, Modest, considered to be weak.

Pyotr Ilyich dedicated the new concerto to Leopold Auer, the fabled Hungarian émigré who would teach two generations of Russian virtuosi. However, just as Nikolai Rubinstein had vilified the B flat minor Piano Concerto four years earlier, Auer declared this new one "unplayable" (though he too recanted, and became one of the work's champions). It was, therefore, a Viennese audience that heard the first performance with Adolf Brodsky and conductor Hans Richter on December 4, 1881. It was an insufficiently rehearsed and poorly accompanied performance, about which Eduard Hanslick wrote, "It brings to us the revolting thought that there may be music that ‘stinks in the ear’". Yet he also wrote in same review that "the Concerto has proportion, is musical, and is not without genius".

In addition to its structural soundness, the concerto fairly teems with melodies, in such abundance that the orchestra's gorgeous opening tune never returns! Thereafter the soloist gets first crack at the rest of them, beginning with the "very moderate" principal theme. The second one is marked molto espressivo, after which the main theme returns, before the development section that ends in a showy solo cadenza, followed by the reprise and coda.

The andante Canzonetta ("little song") in 3/4 time with ABA form features a G minor main theme (additionally marked molto espressivo) and a contrastingly quicker, Chopinesque second theme in E flat major. Without pause the next movement lifts off like an SST from the tarmac. It is a Trepak in rondo form, with two extroverted themes of folkloric character, capped by an extended coda that concludes the piece dervishly. No Russian composer before or since Tchaikovsky has ended a concerto with greater finesse or panache, not even Rachmaninov (who learned wherefrom to take his cue early on, with Tchaikovsky's blessing).

Source: Roger Dettmer (allmusic.com)



Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.10 in E minor, Op.93

Symphony No.10 was Shostakovich's first symphony in eight years, and the gap between this and the 1945 Ninth owed nothing to a lack of inspiration in the genre. In 1948, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Khachaturian, and other noted Soviet composers were censured for writing what party censors called "formalistic" music, a code word for dissonance and the expression of negative emotions or cynicism. Of course, examined against such vague and, therefore, potentially all-inclusive standards, virtually any composition could be vulnerable to attack, and many of Shostakovich's were singled out. After January 1948, most Soviet composers were simply unsure of what was safe to write. Shostakovich turned to writing patriotic bombast like the choral work Song of the Forests (1949), the cantata The Sun Shines on Our Motherland (1952), as well as vapid film scores like that for the 1950 release The Fall of Berlin.

On March 5, 1953, Stalin died. The stringent policies in the arts loosened somewhat in the aftermath of the dictator's passing, and Shostakovich seized the opportunity to write a large symphony, not least because he could satirize Stalin in it. In fact, the second movement is said to be a depiction of the Soviet tyrant. The music in this Allegro is angry and intense, but also quite Russian. Certainly, it can be heard as austere and hostile, sinister and threatening, thereby painting an effective and credible portrait of Stalin, but it might also express anxiety and fear, emotions hardly new to Shostakovich. Thus, the "Stalin" interpretation of this movement, while quite possibly valid, is not fully convincing, much less verifiable.

The Symphony No.10 opens up with a Moderato movement that is nearly as long as the ensuing three movements combined. The mood is dark and brooding and the structure is not unlike that of the Eighth's opening section: there is an introductory theme, followed by two "main" themes. Here, the second of those is faster than its counterpart in the Eighth, and while the atmosphere is intense in the exposition and development section, there is a relaxation in intensity in the recapitulation and coda, where the Eighth remains mired in darkness.

As suggested above, the second movement is a biting, sinister piece. It is followed by an Allegretto of decidedly Russian character, whose mood brightens somewhat, especially in the middle section. This movement is notable because it is the first time that Shostakovich used his personal motto, D-E flat-C-B, which, via German transliteration, represents his initials, DSCH. This motif would appear in numerous subsequent works by the composer, like the Violin Concerto No.1 (1947-1948; rev. 1955) and his popular String Quartet No.8 (1961).

The finale starts off with an Andante that seems mired in a slow-motion haze. Suddenly the mood turns joyous and playful, lively and colorful. An austere middle section recalls the opening gloom, but the cheerful music returns and the Symphony ends in a blaze of ecstatic joy. The Symphony No.10 was premiered in Leningrad on December 17, 1953, under the baton of Yevgeny Mravinsky. It has become, with the Symphony No.5, Shostakovich's most often performed and recorded symphony.

Source: Robert Cummings (allmusic.com)












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