Ilya Rashkovskiy

Ilya Rashkovskiy
Ilya Rashkovskiy (b. 1984), pianist

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, One of Opera's Most Elegant and Expressive Voices, has Died

November 22, 2017

Siberian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, 55, has died following a battle with brain cancer. One of the most elegant and expressive voices in opera, Hvorostovsky passed away this morning at 3:20 a.m. London time. His family released the following statement:

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dmitri Hvorostovsky – beloved operatic baritone, husband, father, son, and friend – at age 55. After a two and a half year battle with brain cancer, he died peacefully at 3:20am GMT on Wednesday, November 22 surrounded by his family at a hospice facility near their home in London, UK. He is survived by his wife, Florence Hvorostovsky, and their two children, Maxim (14) and Nina (10); his twin children, Alexandra and Daniel (21), from a previous marriage; and his parents, Alexander and Lyudmila. Having retired from the opera stage at the end of 2016 due to complications from the tumor, Hvorostovsky made his final public appearance in a "Dmitri and Friends" concert at Austria's Grafenegg Festival in June; in September, he was awarded the Order of Merit for the Fatherland of the IV degree, one of the highest non-military honors in his native Russia, for his great contribution to Russian art and culture.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky's voice was like the best kind of embrace – exceptionally warm, powerful but not smothering, drawing you in and not letting go. There was almost no edge to the sound; it was all plush and power and core, giving the illusion of unwavering strength. He stood ramrod-straight, and when he opened his mouth to sing, the long phrase arcs of Verdi or Tchaikovsky or Mozart seemed to roll out undergirded by phenomenal breath control and, presumably, huge natural lung capacity. His pitch was remarkably accurate, so that even American listeners unfamiliar with Russian operas such as Queen of Spades or War and Peace could clearly perceive Yeletsky's and Prince Andrei's lines and, underneath them, the harmonic progression the composer was going for. If you understood even a bit of Russian, you could make out every word. Because the text was so clear, and put across in a way that felt so direct and intimate, the vastness of the opera house seemed to disappear, and arias felt more like songs. Conversely, in songs – even "Moscow Windows" on his 2005 album of post-World War II songs Moscow Nights, which sounds like it belongs in the soundtrack of a 1960s James Bond movie – he took great care to keep histrionics to a minimum, making those songs somehow more like arias – less sentimental, and more substantial, meaningful and special.

Hvorostovsky's voice, combined with his looks – those eyes, and the prematurely silver shock of hair that made him so perfect for Tchaikovsky's Byronesque lady-killer Eugene Onegin – turned him into a pop-culture idol. People magazine named him one of the world's fifty most beautiful people in 1991, and he was featured on the popular Barihunks website on the second day of its existence with a link to him singing "Ya vas lyublyu", from Queen of Spades. In his native Russia, he became the single-name superstar Dima, à la Madonna or Sting. He grew up in the Soviet Union, but unlike singers ten or twenty years his senior, he was lucky to hit his prime just as the U.S.S.R. disbanded and artist travel to the West became easier and more frequent. Thus he became a top name internationally as well, touring on his own and with the Mariinsky Opera and Valery Gergiev at opera houses pretty much everywhere.

In 1989, Hvorostovsky leapt to attention by winning the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. Footage from the competition finals – the Verdi arias "Son io, mio Carlo", from Don Carlo, and "Eri tu", from Un Ballo in Maschera – demonstrate that already, at twenty-seven, Hvorostovsky had everything in place. He displays the creamy legato, polished phrasing, raw power and aristocratic stage persona for which he would become widely known. His Italian is natural and idiomatic, and it's obvious he understands the words. His rolled rs are exquisite. His voice is powerful, but it floats, so that it never feels heavy. There is a stillness, a dignified composure, that made him a natural fit for principled characters such as Rodrigo, or rulers such as Simon Boccanegra, the latter recorded in 2015 with Barbara Frittoli (Amelia), Stefano Secco (Gabriele) and Ildar Abdrazakov (Fiesco), with Lithuania's Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra and State Chorus, led by longtime colleague Constantine Orbelian.

Opera is full of low-voiced fathers and schemers and villains; not every baritone is successful as the love interest, but these characters suited Dima to a tee. His impassioned love arias in the works of Tchaikovsky – Mazeppa's "O, Marija, Marija!" and Robert's "Kto mozhet sravnitsa s Matildoi moyei", from Iolanta – seem to in draw the listener physically, and in Queen of Spades it seems inconceivable that Lisa would resist his rendition of Yeletsky's "Ya vas lyublu". As Mozart's Don Giovanni, he was all suave seduction in "Deh, vieni alla finestra". He had a special affinity for roles such as the bored aristocrat Eugene Onegin, the princes Yeletsky and Andrei, and Mozart's Count Almaviva.

Hvorostovsky's timbre – a bel canto smoothness with chocolate-y Slavic hints – miked and recorded well, and his telegenic face was a boon for TV and HD opera, especialy given his ability to scale down opera-house expressions to the dimensions of the small screen. Like many top-tier opera singers, he performed and recorded music he personally was drawn to, or that he felt wasn't widely enough known. He seemed to have a new recital disc out every year or two, tackling everything from Russian liturgical music to Shostakovich's Suite on Poems by Michelangelo and Liszt's Petrarca Sonnets to music inspired by poetry of Pushkin and songs of Georgy Sviridov. This was all in addition to numerous operatic CDs and DVDs, including gala concerts and arias and duets with singers ranging from Renée Fleming and Anna Netrebko to Olga Borodina and Sondra Radvanovsky.

Life was not all smooth sailing for the baritone. Growing up in Siberia in the late Soviet era was not easy, and Hvorostovsky spoke openly about his struggles in the 1990s with alcohol, which he gave up entirely in 2001. The father of four children from two marriages, he lived happily for many years in London with his second wife, Florence. He retained an intense connection to Russia, however – one that he said grew stronger during the years away. In 2003, he released an album of popular Russian songs from the World War II years, "Where Are You, My Brothers?". His follow-up 2005 disc, Moscow Nights, featuring popular and deeply sentimental songs from the postwar Soviet era, is nothing short of spectacular. "Kak molodiy my byli" (How Young We Were), with its sweeping violins and key changes, steps right to the edge of taste, but Hvorostovsky somehow imbues it with dignity: he's sharing it, not selling it. At the end of the song, he dips to a whispery hush, the sound of a grandfather remembering his youth. The CD's final bonus track, Shostakovich's "Rodina slyshit" (Motherland hears), features Dmitri both young and old: it starts with a home recording of him singing the song as an eleven-year-old boy, with his father at the piano, then morphs into him singing the song as an adult. It's not just a look back for Dmitri: to any Russian of a certain age, the song is remembered as the one that Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was listening to while circling the earth as the first man in space in 1961.

Russian folksong presents a bit of the same challenge as singing Mozart: it's not as easy as it seems. The repeated dominant note of the scale is what you hear over and over in "Odnozvuchno gremit kolokol'chik" (The Lonely Coach Bell) on Hvorostovsky's 2014 album The Bells of Dawn: Russian Sacred and Folk Songs. "Kolokol'chik" is slow and ruminative, and its lyric arcs seem to stretch on and on: Hvorostovsky makes it sound effortless. Here, singing over simple triads voiced by a wordless choir, he ends every stanza except the last one on the dominant note, and each time it’s more compelling than the last. Why? There is just the right hesitation, the pitches are centered just so, and there's an acute sense of nostalgia and yearning, but there is also an intangible and ineffable quality. It’s a small mystery.

In June 2015, it was announced that Hvorostovsky was being treated in London for brain cancer. The mood was highly charged when he returned to the Met the following September, after several months of cancelations, to sing Count di Luna in Il Trovatore.Opera-lovers were deliriously happy to have him back onstage, and they showed it with thunderous applause at his first entrance and again after his aria "Il balen", in which he sounded remarkably unchanged. His presence notched things up, spurring Netrebko's Leonora and Dolora Zajick's Azucena to a feverish intensity. At curtain call, he was showered with white roses as Netrebko, a close friend, stood beside him in tears. That fall, he threw himself back into performing, and the next month he was back in the studio to record Dmitri Hvorostovsky Sings of War, Peace, Love and Sorrow, featuring arias and scenes from Prokofiev's War and Peace, Rubinstein's Demon and Tchaikovsky's Iolanta, Queen of Spades and Mazeppa.

In December 2016, balance issues resulting from his brain cancer began to surface, making it difficult to move onstage, and he withdrew from all staged opera productions, among them a Eugene Onegin at the Met in spring 2017, as well as Germont in Vienna, Iago in Dresden and di Luna in London. He kept his 2017 concert dates in Kaliningrad, Minsk, Vienna, Toronto, Dublin and Moscow.

It was obvious how much joy Hvorostovsky got from being onstage, even in the silliest, hokiest moments of opera galas, such as an "O sole mio" he sang with Jonas Kaufmann in Moscow in 2008. The grin on his face seems to say, "If you can't have fun with this, what's the point?" He wasn't above State-sponsored spectaculars: in 2003, for instance, he sang World War II-era songs before 6,000 people at the Kremlin. If his voice was an embrace, audiences embraced him right back: via YouTube, you can watch as the camera pans over the rapt faces of the crowd as he sings "Moscow Nights" in Moscow's Red Square in June 2013. Audience members aren't screaming, but their adoring expressions wouldn't be out of place at an Elvis or Beatles concert. Even Netrebko looks overcome at moments: Hvorostovsky had that effect on people.

Source: Jennifer Melick (

Πέθανε ο διάσημος βαρύτονος Ντμίτρι Χβοροστόφσκι

22 Νοεμβρίου 2017

Η φωνή του Ντμίτρι Χβοροστόφσκι είχε μεγαλείο και το παρουσιαστικό του είχε τον αέρα των Ουραλίων. Ήταν επιβλητικός και αρχοντικός όχι με όρους κοινωνικούς αλλά με εκείνη τη διάκριση που σου δίνει η ικανότητα να ελέγχεις, να ξεπερνάς τον εαυτό σου, να προσφέρεις απόλαυση.

Ο πρώιμος θάνατος του Ντμίτρι Χβοροστόφσκι, στα 55 του χρόνια, συνέβη σήμερα. Αν και η είδηση δεν αιφνιδίασε, καθώς από το 2015 ήταν γνωστό ότι είχε διαγνωστεί με καρκίνο στον εγκέφαλο, η αναγγελία του θανάτου του κλόνισε το πολυπληθές κοινό του σε όλον τον κόσμο.

Είναι ίσως κλισέ να πει κανείς ότι ο Νμίτρι Χβοροστόφσκι ήταν ένας αστέρας του λυρικού θεάτρου που περνάει στην αθανασία με δάφνινο στεφάνι λόγω του άκαιρου τέλους, αλλά στην περίπτωσή του είναι ακριβές. Ήταν ένας βαρύτονος που ανήκε σε εκείνη τη γενιά που έζησε την πλατιά δημοτικότητα της όπερας μετά το 1990, και ο Ντμίτρι Χβοροστόφσκι ήταν εκεί, ένας από τους πυλώνες μιας ανανεωμένης πίστης με ένα διεθνές κοινό.

Αν σκεφτεί κανείς ότι ο γιγαντόσωμος Ντμίτρι, με τα λευκά μαλλιά, τα ευρασιατικά χαρακτηριστικά, τα μεγάλα χέρια και τη βαθιά και δυνατή φωνή, ήταν ένα παιδί από τα βάθη της Σιβηρίας που μεγάλωσε στις δεκαετίες τού '60 και του '70, καταλαβαίνει κανείς το σθένος του ανθρώπου, το χάρισμα, το πείσμα. Τραγούδησε ό,τι υπήρχε για τη φωνή του και είχε ταυτιστεί με τους ρόλους βαρύτονου του 19ου αιώνα.

Θα μείνει στην ιστορία για την εξαιρετική ιδιοσυγκρασία του, εκείνη που τον ώθησε ακόμη και μέσα στο 2017 να κάνει εμφανίσεις και να αποθεώνεται και εκείνος να υποκλίνεται και με ρωσική θερμότητα να στέλνει φιλιά στο κοινό. Είχε τον καλό εκείνο εγωισμό, που δεν του επέτρεπε να το δουν λυγισμένο, που δεν άφηνε τίποτε να σκιάσει την εικόνα του Ρώσου γίγαντα που είχε τον τρόπο να ερμηνεύει και να σαγηνεύει.

Πέρασε στο πάνθεον των καλών και αγαθών του διεθνούς λυρικού θεάτρου, ένα παιδί από τη Σιβηρία που έκανε τον κόσμο να το χειροκροτεί.

Πηγή: Νίκος Βατόπουλος (

Photos by Pavel Vaan & Leonid Semenyuk

See also

Anna Netrebko & Dmitri Hvorostovsky: Live from Red Square, Moscow – State Academic Symphony Orchestra "Evgeny Svetlanov", Constantine Orbelian – Part 1/2 (HD 1080p)

Anna Netrebko & Dmitri Hvorostovsky: Live from Red Square, Moscow – State Academic Symphony Orchestra "Evgeny Svetlanov", Constantine Orbelian – Part 2/2 (HD 1080p)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Olivier Messiaen: Quatuor pour la fin du temps – Martin Fröst, Lucas Debargue, Janine Jansen, Torleif Thedéen (Download 96kHz/24bit & 44.1kHz/16bit)

Martin Fröst performs Olivier Messiaen's 
most original and poignant chamber work, the Quartet for the end of time (Quatuor pour la fin du temps), with Lucas Debargue, Janine Jansen and Torleif Thedéen.

Olivier Messiaen is one of the great composers of the 20th century and the Quartet for the end of time is probably his greatest chamber work. The album pushes all kinds of boundaries, first of all through its genesis in a concentration camp, through the unusual combination of the instruments, and then through the performance by Martin Fröst himself who is known for pushing musical and technical boundaries: "There is something approaching the supernatural about his command of his instrument", said The New York Times.

Martin Fröst and Janine Jansen first met 16 years ago and the first piece they ever played together was the Quartet for the End of Time. Torleif Thedeen was also part of that group. This piece left them with a deep sense of connection, and now they record it together for the first time. Janine Jansen, internationally recognized as one of the great violinists and known as a "crowd pleaser", regularly receives standing ovations from enthusiastic audiences. Lucas Debargue, who became famous overnight after causing a sensation at the 2015 Tchaikovsky Competition, enjoys widespread popularity. Opportunity to promote the album through a small tour with the Quartet, starting in Barcelona and culminating in NYC at Carnegie Hall.

The work was composed and first performed at a Nazi concentration camp in 1941 while Messiaen was a prisoner. It is scored for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano, reflecting the players Messiaen had available to him at this time. Messiaen, a devout Catholic, based the work on the language and imagery of the Apocalypse (Book of Revelation) where time is forever abolished.


Recording session at the Siemensvilla in Berlin. Photo by Harald Hoffman

Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)

♪ Quatuor pour la fin du temps / Quartet for the end of time (1940-1941)

i. Liturgie de cristal
ii. Vocalise, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps
iii. Abîme des oiseaux
iv. Intermède
v. Louange à l'Éternité de Jésus
vi. Danse de la fureur, pour les sept trompettes
vii. Fouillis d'arcs-en-ciel, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps
viii. Louange à l'Immortalité de Jésus

Martin Fröst, clarinet
Lucas Debargue, piano
Janine Jansen, violin
Torleif Thedéen, cello

Cover image by Ingrid Michel

Recorded at Siemensvilla, Berlin, Germany, August 28-30, 2017

Sony Classical 2017

Watch the trailer

"For me, Quartet for the End of Time by Olivier Messiaen is one the most original and most poignant piece of the 20th Century. As the world has been marking and reflecting upon the several anniversaries of the World Wars, in recent years, it felt that now was the perfect time to get this project off the ground, especially too as I feel the music, is still as relevant in today's political climate as it was when it was first premiered in 1941", says Martin Fröst.

Download the CD from Turbobit

Link 1

(96kHz/24bit, Size: 843.78 MB)

Link 2

(44.1kHz/16bit, Size: 209.04 MB)

Source: israbox

For converting FLAC files to WAV (recommended), Apple Lossless, M4A, AAC, WMA, MP3, use the Free Studio / Free Audio Converter or xrecode II or another program.

If the links are dead,  please let us know.

Photo from the concert at the Verbier Festival, August 4, 2017

I was in my early teens when I first heard Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time; the windows were open to the rehearsal room of a little house, at a summer music camp in Riihimäki, Finland, where, among others, the wonderful Finnish clarinet player Kari Kriikku was practicing the piece. I was bewitched by the rehearsal and couldn't move during the movements Abyss of the Birds, Vocalise, for the Angel who Announces the End of Time, Dance of Frenzy, and Praise to the Immortality of Jesus, and I ended up walking away from the house that day with a different view of the world.

When I met Janine for the first time 16 years ago, the first piece we played together was the quartet; Torleif Thedéen was also part of that group. When we performed the work together, we all experienced one of life's rare and profound musical moments, when everything comes together and you are left with a deep sense of connection not only to the piece, but to each other – we have been trying to find the right circumstances to record the piece together ever since. As the world has been marking and reflecting upon several anniversaries of the World Wars in recent years, it felt that now was the perfect time to get this project off the ground, especially too as I feel the music is still as relevant in today's political climate as it was when it was premiered in 1941. After hearing Lucas Debargue, we had no doubts he was the perfect pianist to join our musical family and be a part of this project.

I wish to say a very special thanks to Vandoren for sponsoring this wonderful project, and for their continuous and much-appreciated assistance throughout my career. It is a pleasure to work with such a professional and supportive team. I would also like to say thank-you to Hans Kipfer, a valued colleague on whom I can always trust, as well as the full team at Sony, for their dedication and support in making this project happen.

I really hope you enjoy our recording and that you will be as taken by the power of this music as I was, those many years ago.

Source: Martin Fröst (CD Booklet)

Photo from the concert at the Verbier Festival, August 4, 2017

The language and imagery of the Apocalypse (Book of Revelation) inspired Messiaen's Quatuor pour la fin du temps – surely the most remarkable composition to emerge from a Prisoner of War camp, by a musician whose Catholic faith sustained him in the most arduous circumstances. The work has a printed dedication: "In homage to the Angel of the Apocalypse, who raises his hand towards heaven saying: ‘There shall be Time no longer’".

In May 1940, the German army entered France, and Messiaen was among thousands of French soldiers taken to a makeshift camp in a vast field near Nancy. There he met the clarinettist Henri Akoka and the cellist Étienne Pasquier. As Pasquier later recalled, "while we were still in this field, Messiaen composed a solo clarinet piece for Akoka which was to become the third movement of the Quartet: Abîme des oiseaux".

Messiaen, Akoka and Pasquier were transported at the end of June 1940 to Stalag VIII A, a Prisoner of War camp near Görlitz, about 110 km east of Dresden. Two movements of what was to become the Quartet had earlier incarnations: the "Louange" for cello reused music from the Fête des belles eaux, written in 1937 for an ensemble of six ondes Martenot; and the final "Louange" for violin reworked part of the Diptyque for organ (1930). The "Intermède" was the first movement to be written in Stalag VIII A, rehearsed by Akoka, Pasquier and the violinist Jean Le Boulaire in September 1940. Once the authorities had found a piano for Messiaen, he was able to compose the rest of the Quartet, using German manuscript paper provided by one of the guards at the camp: Carl-Albert Brüll, a music-loving lawyer who also spoke French. The instruments available to Messiaen presented a challenge in terms of blend and balance, and his solution was to use different combinations: solo (clarinet), duos (cello and piano, violin and piano), and trio (clarinet and strings); the whole ensemble plays together in only four of the eight movements. Messiaen recalled the composition and premiere in an interview with Antoine Goléa:

In the Stalag with me were a violinist, a clarinettist and the cellist Étienne Pasquier. I immediately wrote an unpretentious little trio for them, which they played to me in the washrooms. [...]  I kept this little piece and gradually added the seven movements that surround it. [...] An upright piano was brought into the camp, very out of tune, the keys of which got stuck arbitrarily. [...] On this piano I played my Quatuor pour la fin du Temps, in front of an audience of five thousand people, the most diverse mixture of all classes in society. [...] Never have I been listened to with such attention and understanding.

This needs to be treated with caution. The premiere of the Quartet took place at the camp – in Hut 27B, which had been converted into a makeshift theatre – at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, 15 January 1941. Two important details were corrected by Étienne Pasquier in an interview with Hannelore Lauerwald. He quietly revised Messiaen's biblical but wildly improbable audience of 5,000 to "about 400", and laid to rest the myth of the three-stringed cello:

All the seats were taken, about four hundred in all, and people listened raptly, their thoughts turning inward, even those who may have been hearing chamber music for the first time. It was extraordinary. [...] It was bitterly cold outside the hut, and there was snow on the ground and on the rooftops. [...] Messiaen repeatedly claimed that there were only three strings on my cello, but in fact I played on four strings.

In April 1941, a review of the premiere appeared in Lumignon, the French-language camp newspaper, giving a fascinating description of the audience reaction:

It was our good fortune to have witnessed in this camp the first performance of a masterpiece. And what's strange is that in a hut full of prisoners we felt just the same tumultuous and partisan atmosphere as at some premières. [...] While there was fervent enthusiasm on some rows, it was impossible not to sense the irritation on others. [...] It's often a mark of a work's greatness that it has provoked conflict on the occasion of its birth.

By the time this review appeared, Messiaen had been liberated and was back in France. The first Paris performance of the Quartet was given at the Théâtre des Mathurins on 24 June 1941. As at the Görlitz premiere, it included spoken introductions by the composer. Arthur Honegger remarked on this in his review (Comoedia, 12 July 1941), noting that "some people will perhaps have found a little too much literature around this music".

Messiaen's remarks – from which extracts are printed below – were published in the preface to the score. No doubt some twenty-first-century listeners will agree with Honegger, but the Quartet is essentially programme music and to understand his thought processes, and something of the work's programme, this commentary is an essential source.

I. Liturgy of Crystal. Between three and four in the morning, the dawn chorus: a blackbird or a nightingale improvises a solo, surrounded by a shimmer of sound. [...] Transpose this on to a religious plane and you have the harmonious silence of heaven.

II. Vocalise, for the Angel who announces the End of Time. The first and third sections [...] evoke the power of a mighty Angel, a rainbow round his head. [...] In the middle are the intangible harmonies of heaven. Sweet cascades of blue-orange chords on the piano, enveloping in their distant chimes the chant-like incantations of the violin and cello.

III. Abyss of the Birds. The abyss, which is Time, with its sadness and weariness. The birds are the opposite of Time: they represent our desire for light, for stars, for rainbows and for joyful vocalises.

IV. Interlude. Scherzo, with a more outgoing character than the other movements, but linked to them by a few melodic recollections.

V. Praise to the Eternity of Jesus. Jesus is considered here as the Word. A broad, infinitely slow phrase on the cello magnifies the eternity of the Word with love and reverence, powerful and gentle, whose time never runs out. Majestically, the melody stretches into a kind of tender, noble distance.

VI. Dance of Frenzy, for the Seven Trumpets. Rhythmically, the most individual movement. The four instruments in unison imitate gongs and trumpets. [...] Music of stone, a formidable granite sound; irresistible movement of steel, enormous blocks of purple fury, icy drunkenness. Listen above all to the immense fortissimo of the augmented version of the theme [...] near the end of the piece.

VII. Tumult of Rainbows, for the Angel who announces the End of Time. Certain passages from the second movement recur here. The angel appears in full force. [...] In my dreams, I hear and see ordered chords and melodies, familiar colours and shapes; then I pass into unreality and suffer, with ecstasy, a spiralling giration of superhuman sounds and colours.

VIII. Praise to the Immortality of Jesus. A broad violin solo, a counterpart to the cello solo of the fifth movement. Why this second "Louange"? It is particularly aimed at the second aspect of Jesus: Jesus the Man, the Word made flesh. [...] The slow ascent to the extreme high register is the ascent of man to his God, the child of God to his Father, the being made divine towards Paradise.

Source: Nigel Simeone (CD Booklet)

Photo from the concert at the Verbier Festival, August 4, 2017

See also

Olivier Messiaen: Quatuor pour la fin du temps – Trio Oriens, Richard Nunemaker (HD 1080p)

Dollhouse: a concert performance of Martin Fröst

Lucas Debargue – All the posts

Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons – Janine Jansen, Amsterdam Sinfonietta (HD 1080p)

Dmitri Shostakovich: Piano Trio No.1 in C minor – Janine Jansen, Torleif Thedéen, Eldar Nebolsin

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ilya Rashkovskiy plays Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Liszt, Tchaikovsky & Chopin – XV International Tchaikovsky Competition, 2015, Piano / Round 1

The International Tchaikovsky Competition, first held more than 50 years ago, is not only a valuable asset of Russian musical culture but is also one of the major events in the international music community. The International Tchaikovsky Competition is held once every four years.

The first, in 1958, included two disciplines – piano and violin. Beginning with the second competition, in 1962, a cello category was added, and the vocal division was introduced during the third competition in 1966. In 1990, a fifth discipline was announced for the IX International Tchaikovsky Competition – a contest for violin makers which was held before the main competition.

The XV International Tchaikovsky Competition was held in Moscow and St Petersburg from June 15 to July 3, 2015, and was dedicated to the 175th anniversary of the great Russian composer.

In the competition participated more than 600 artists from 45 countries.

On the jury for piano was the distinguished pianists Dmitri Bashkirov, Boris Berezovsky, Michel Béroff, Peter Donohoe, Sergei Dorensky, Barry Douglas, Denis Matsuev, Vladimir Ovchinnikov, Alexander Toradze, Vladimir Feltsman, Klaus Hellwig, and the founder and director of the Verbier International Festival and Academy, Martin Engström.

Ο 15ος Διεθνής Διαγωνισμός Τσαϊκόφσκι, ο οποίος ήταν αφιερωμένος στην 175η επέτειο από τη γέννηση του μεγάλου Ρώσου συνθέτη, πραγματοποιήθηκε στη Μόσχα και στην Αγία Πετρούπολη από τις 15 Ιουνίου έως τις 3 Ιουλίου 2015.

Στο πλαίσιο του πρώτου γύρου του διαγωνισμού στην κατηγορία του πιάνου, ο Ρώσος πιανίστας Ilya Rashkovskiy (γενν. 1984), ερμήνευσε το Πρελούδιο και Φούγκα αρ. 8 σε Μι ύφεση ελάσσονα, από το πρώτο βιβλίο του «Καλοσυγκερασμένου Κλειδοκύμβαλου», BWV 853, του Γιόχαν Σεμπάστιαν Μπαχ, τη Σονάτα για πιάνο αρ. 32 σε Ντο ελάσσονα, έργο 111, του Λούντβιχ βαν Μπετόβεν, τη Σπουδή αρ. 2 σε Ντο μείζονα, από τις Études-tableaux, έργο 33, του Σεργκέι Ραχμάνινοφ, τη δωδέκατη Σπουδή σε Σι δίεση ελάσσονα από τις δώδεκα Transcendental Études, S.139, του Φραντς Λιστ, το τέταρτο κομμάτι, "April: Snowdrop", σε Σι ύφεση μείζονα, από τις Εποχές, έργο 37, του Πιότρ Ιλίτς Τσαϊκόφσκι, και τη Σπουδή αρ. 12 σε Ντο ελάσσονα, του έργου 25, του Φρεντερίκ Σοπέν.

Το ρεσιτάλ έλαβε χώρα στη Μεγάλη Αίθουσα του Ωδείου της Μόσχας, στις 18 Ιουνίου 2015.

Ο Διεθνής Διαγωνισμός Τσαϊκόφσκι, ο οποίος πραγματοποιείται κάθε τέσσερα χρόνια, είναι ίσως ο σημαντικότερος διαγωνισμός στο χώρο της κλασικής μουσικής. Ο διαγωνισμός διοργανώθηκε για πρώτη φορά το 1958, περιλαμβάνοντας μόνο δύο κατηγορίες: του βιολιού και του πιάνου. Το 1962, στη δεύτερη διοργάνωση, προστέθηκε η κατηγορία του βιολοντσέλου, ενώ στην τρίτη διοργάνωση του διαγωνισμού, το 1966, προστέθηκε ακόμη η κατηγορία της φωνής.

Στον 15ο Διαγωνισμό, το 2015, συμμετείχαν περισσότεροι από εξακόσιοι καλλιτέχνες από 45 χώρες, οι οποίοι διαγωνίστηκαν και στις τέσσερεις κατηγορίες: πιάνο, βιολί, βιολοντσέλο και φωνή.

Την κριτική επιτροπή για την κατηγορία του πιάνου αποτελούσαν οι διακεκριμένοι πιανίστες Dmitri Bashkirov, Boris Berezovsky, Michel Béroff, Peter Donohoe, Sergei Dorensky, Barry Douglas, Denis Matsuev, Vladimir Ovchinnikov, Alexander Toradze, Vladimir Feltsman, Klaus Hellwig, καθώς επίσης και ο Martin Engström, ιδρυτής και διευθυντής του Διεθνούς Φεστιβάλ και της Ακαδημίας του Βερμπιέρ.

XV International Tchaikovsky Competition, 2015, Piano / Round 1

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

 The Well-Tempered Clavier I / Das Wohltemperierte Klavier I, BWV 846-869 (1722)* [00:00]**

viii. Prelude and Fugue in E flat minor, BWV 853

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

♪ Piano Sonata No.32 in C minor, Op.111 (1821-1822) [10:07]

i. Maestoso – Allegro con brio ed appassionato
ii. Arietta: Adagio molto, semplice e cantabile

Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)

♪ Études-tableaux, Op.33 No.2 in C major (1911) [35:38]

Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

♪ The Transcendental Études for Piano, S.139 No.12 in B flat minor "Chasse-neige" (1851) [38:08]

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

♪ The Seasons, for piano, Op.37 (1875-1876) [43:36]

iv. April (Snowdrop). Allegretto con moto e un poco rubato in B flat major

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)

♪ Études, Op.25 No.12 in C minor (1832-1836) [46:02]

Ilya Rashkovskiy, piano

Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, June 18, 2015

(HD 720p)

The Well-Tempered Clavier, by Johann Sebastian Bach, consists of two books of twenty-four Preludes and Fugues each, in all twenty-four major and minor keys. The first book (BWV 846-869) dates back to 1722, although Bach revised his manuscript thereafter. The second book (BWV 870-893) was composed in 1744.

The pianists competing at the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition must perform, during the first round of the Competition, one Prelude and one Fugue from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier.

* «Το Καλοσυγκερασμένο Κλειδοκύμβαλο» (γερμανικά: Das Wohltemperierte Klavier) είναι μία συλλογή δύο βιβλίων του Γιόχαν Σεμπάστιαν Μπαχ για πληκτροφόρο όργανο. Κάθε βιβλίο περιλαμβάνει 24 δυάδες ενός Πρελούδιου και μιας Φούγκας γραμμένων σε κάθε μία από τις 24 τονικότητες. Το πρώτο βιβλίο (BWV 846-869) χρονολογείται στο 1722, αν και στη συνέχεια ο Μπαχ αναθεωρήθηκε το χειρόγραφό του, και το δεύτερο (BWV 870-893) στο 1742.

Οι πιανίστες οι οποίοι διαγωνίστηκαν στον 15ο Διεθνή Διαγωνισμό Τσαϊκόφσκι έπρεπε στη διάρκεια του πρώτου γύρου να ερμηνεύσουν μία δυάδα ενός Πρελούδιου και μιας Φούγκας από «Το Καλοσυγκερασμένο Κλειδοκύμβαλο» του Μπαχ.

** Start time of each work

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).


More photos

See also

The winners of the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition, 2015

Friday, November 17, 2017

Richard Strauss: Don Juan, & Burleske in D minor for piano and orchestra | Johannes Brahms: Symphony No.2 in D major – Bertrand Chamayou, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Fabien Gabel – Sunday, November 19, 2017, 03:00 PM EST (UTC-5) / 10:00 PM EET (UTC+2) – Live on Livestream

Bertrand Chamayou (Photo by Marco Borggreve)

Under the baton of the talented French conductor Fabien Gabel, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performs Richard Strauss' Don Juan, Op.20, and – with the French virtuoso pianist Bertrand Chamayou – Burleske in D minor for piano and orchestra, TrV 145, and Johannes Brahms' Symphony No.2 in D major, Op.73.

From its opening flourish, Strauss' Don Juan takes you on the legendary lover's adventures, until he ultimately faces the consequences of his promiscuity. The 24-year-old Strauss rose to international fame with this work, but didn't receive the approval of one of his early idols, the 19th Century master Johannes Brahms. To Brahms the new sound was pure indulgence, and honored the genius of past greats with a more traditional style embodied in his Second Symphony.

Sunday, November 19
Los Angeles: 02:00 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, November 20
Beijing: 05:00 AM
Tokyo: 06:00 AM

Find in my time zone

Live on Livestream

Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

♪ Don Juan, Op.20 (1888)

♪ Burleske in D minor for piano and orchestra, TrV 145 (1885-1886)

Bertrand Chamayou, piano

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

♪ Symphony No.2 in D major, Op.73 (1877)

i. Allegro non troppo
ii. Adagio non troppo
iii. Allegretto grazioso
iv. Allegro con spirito

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Fabien Gabel

(HD 720p)

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

Sunday, November 19, 2017, 03:00 PM EST (UTC-5) / 10:00 PM EET (UTC+2)

Live on Livestream

Bertrand Chamayou (b. 1981, Toulouse) has mastered an extensive repertoire displaying striking assurance, imagination, artistic approach and remarkable consistency in his performances. He is a regular performer in venues such as the Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Lincoln Center, the Herkulessaal Munich and London's Wigmore Hall. He has appeared at major festivals including New York's Mostly Mozart Festival, the Lucerne Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn and Klavier-Festival Ruhr.

The 2017-2018 season will see him make his debuts with New York Philharmonic under Semyon Bychkov, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Bamberger Symphoniker, Staatskapelle Berlin, Atlanta Symphony, Orchestre symphonique de Québec and Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Further highlights include his return to Orchestre National de Belgique, Orquesta Nacional de España, Orchestre de Paris and Orchestre National de France. He will perform as soloist on tour in South Africa with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse.

Chamayou is a regular chamber music performer, with partners including Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Quatuor Ebène, Antoine Tamestit and Sol Gabetta. The pianist will open the season at London's International Piano Series and perform in recitals at Wigmore Hall, Kissinger Sommer, Lakeside Arts Center Nottingham, in Monte Carlo, Vilnius, Essen, at Salzburg's Easter Festival and Great Performers series at Lincoln Center, New York.

Bertrand Chamayou has made a number of highly successful recordings, including a Naïve CD of music by César Franck, which was awarded several accolades including Gramophone's Editor's Choice. In 2011, Chamayou celebrated Liszt's 200th anniversary with a recording of the complete "Années de Pèlerinage" – also for Naïve – which he performed in several venues throughout the world. The album received rave reviews worldwide – including Gramophone Choice. The only artist to win France's prestigious Victoires de la Musique on four occasions he has an exclusive recording contract with Warner/Erato and was awarded the 2016 ECHO Klassik for his recording of Ravel's complete works for solo piano.


Recognized internationally as one of the stars of the new generation, Fabien Gabel is a regular guest of major orchestras in Europe, North America and Asia. He has been music director of the Quebec Symphony Orchestra since September 2013, and was recently appointed music director of the Orchestre Français des Jeunes (French Youth Orchestra).

Following a highly-anticipated debut with the Cleveland Orchestra, Fabien embarks on an exciting 2017-2018 season that will take him across the United States and Europe, including high-profile performances with the National Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Frankfurt's Hessischer Rundfunk Orchester and the Orchestre de Paris. Additional American appearances include performances with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, and the San Diego Symphony. After an acclaimed debut with the Deutsches Sinfonie Orchestra last season, Gabel's European engagements will again feature concerts throughout Germany (Staatskapelle Weimar in addition to Frankfurt), and welcome returns to the Orchestre de Paris, Helsinki Philharmonic, Antwerp Philharmonic and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

Gabel has conducted leading orchestras around the world, including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester in Hamburg, the DSO Berlin, Staatskappelle Dresden, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic, Orchestra dell'Accademia Santa Cecilia di Roma, and the Seoul Philharmonic, among others.

His rapidly-expanding U.S. presence has seen him leading the Cleveland Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony Orchestra and more.

Fabien Gabel has worked with soloists like Emmanuel Ax, Gidon Cremer, Christian Tetzlaff, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Julian Steckel, Johannes Moser, Antonio Meneses, Marc-André Hamelin, Beatrice Rana, Gautier Capuçon, and Simone Lamsma, or singers like Jennifer Larmore, Measha Bruggergosman, Danielle de Niese, Natalie Dessay, and Marie- Nicole Lemieux.

Fabien had first attracted international attention in 2004 winning the Donatella Flick competition in London, which subsequently led to his appointment as the LSO's assistant conductor for the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 seasons. Since then, the LSO has engaged him regularly as a guest conductor.

He made his professional conducting debut in 2003 with the Orchestre National de France and has since returned frequently.  He now regularly conducts this orchestra in subscription concerts at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris and recently recorded a French opera aria CD with them and mezzo Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Naïve).

Born in Paris in 1975 and a member of a family of accomplished musicians, Fabien Gabel began studying trumpet at the age of six, honing his skills at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, which awarded him a First Prize in trumpet in 1996, and later at the Musik Hochschule of Karlsruhe. He went on to play in various Parisian orchestras under the direction of prominent conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Sir Colin Davis, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Simon Rattle and Bernard Haitink. In 2002 Fabien Gabel pursued his interest in conducting at the Aspen Summer Music Festival, where he studied with David Zinman, who invited him to appear as a guest conductor at the Festival in 2009. He has worked with Bernard Haitink and Sir Colin Davis as their assistant.


Bertrand Chamayou (Photo by Marco Borggreve)

Richard Strauss: Don Juan, Op.20

Don Juan (1888) stands out among Strauss' early tone poems for its almost perfect structure and concise design. Taking Nikolaus Lenau's fragmentary play of the same title as his starting point, Strauss fashioned a tone poem which would convey the story of the legendary inveterate womanizer. The connection with Lenau's version of the story is confirmed by the quotation of text as an incipit in the score.

Strauss quickly captures the impetuous nature of Don Juan in the soaring theme which opens the piece. While Strauss did not allow a narrative description to be printed at the premiere (as was then often the case with program music), the story is easy enough to follow. Taking the more lyrical sections as depictions of various women, one after another, one hears the exuberant opening theme that occurs between them, and which opens the work, as Don Juan's own. This theme intensifies and becomes more ardent throughout until, near the end, it dissolves into the stormy music associated with the Commendatore, the father of a woman Don Juan had seduced. As in Mozart's similarly themed opera Don Giovanni (1787), the Don meets his end at the hands of the Commendatore. In Strauss' treament, however, the spirit of Don Juan emerges even after his defeat.

Strauss himself conducted the premiere of the work in fall 1889, and it was well received from the start. In its exceedingly vivid orchestration, use of short motives, and intense lyricism, Don Juan provides a striking and enduring encapsulation of Strauss' musical language.

Source: James Zychowicz (

Richard Strauss: Burleske in D minor for piano and orchestra, TrV 145

Two of the many stylistic personae of Richard Strauss are represented in this program: the first, chronologically, is exemplified by the Burleske (1885), the creation of an ardent young Brahmsian, his sensibilities shielded by his horn-player father, Franz, from the Wagner-Liszt "plague". However, Strauss would soon succumb to that very plague which his father most feared, beginning with Don Juan (1888) and reaching a peak of sensationalism and inventiveness with Ein Heldenleben - A Hero's Life (1898).

Burleske had its origins in Strauss' apprenticeship with the conductor Hans von Bülow in Meiningen, which took up the first half of 1885. The composer intended the solo for Bülow, who was equally renowned as a pianist. Its putative dedicatee, however, considered it too unconventional stylistically – and unmanageable by his small hands. Another stellar pianist of the time, Eugen d'Albert, was more favorably disposed and manually endowed. He accepted its dedication, introducing the piece to the public at a 1890 music festival in Eisenach, with Strauss conducting. Ironically, by that time Strauss had already expunged the Brahmsian influence from his musical thinking: the premiere of the futuristic Don Juan had, in fact taken place in November of 1889, several months before that of the Burleske.

That there should be a Brahmsian flavor to the Burleske should come as no surprise. Brahms was a frequent visitor to Meiningen, given his friendship with Bülow and that its orchestra was one of Europe's finest. The one time Strauss and Brahms did, in fact, meet was in Meiningen, in 1885.

The Burleske is in a single sonata-allegro movement. The timpani solo, the attention-grabbing inspiration with which the piece begins, is followed by a syncopated theme in parallel thirds that is purest Brahms. But the burgeoning Strauss is detectable as well, here and throughout – in the score's nervous energy, terse rhythms, and, most notably, in its wide melodic leaps.

Source: Herbert Glass (

Johannes Brahms: Symphony No.2 in D major, Op.73

Johannes Brahms composed his Symphony No.2 in the summer of 1877, less than a year after the premiere of his Symphony No.1 – an astonishing fact given that the former had taken him fifteen years to complete. Finally confident in his abilities as a symphonist, and less troubled by the looming shadow of Beethoven, Brahms created a much more spontaneous work that was well received by both critics and audiences. When compared with the works of his contemporaries, this piece is conservative in both orchestration and formal structure. But it is by no means reactionary. Rather, Brahms revised and expanded upon the eighteenth century model, largely replacing thematic contrast with transformation and variation, and adding his distinctive richness of harmony and rhythm.

There is both unity and variety in this symphony: Brahms manages to combine the light and dark, the lyrical and forceful, the extroverted and introspective – all the while growing the piece organically from the "seed" of the very first three notes (D-C sharp-D, heard in the cellos and the double basses). This compositional economy is instinctively apparent to the ear, and helps to make the entire work intelligible without sacrificing interest or spontaneity.

Brahms's orchestration is full, rich, and often ingenious. He chooses to make the ensemble one unified voice, and has introduced his entire spectrum of instrumental colors after only 40 bars; however, one never gets the sense that he is overusing the orchestra. Instead he creates a texture in constant flux, shifting the focus of the ear, and extracting individual colors to great effect.

The piece opens with the three-note germinating cell and a simple horn melody; we are then introduced to two subjects in turn, the first announced by the violins, and the second by the cellos and violas in a luxurious duet. After developing both themes, Brahms creates an interesting recapitulation by briefly combining the initial horn melody and the first subject, and then dwelling extensively on the second subject. A short coda is attached to the end.

Two bassoons color the second movement's opening cello theme with a dark counterpoint, creating an immediate contrast to the first movement. It is here that we begin to see the more introspective side of Brahms, although this is by no means a brooding movement; there a surprising variety of expression within the slow prevailing tempo.

With the third movement, Brahms for the first time departs from a string-dominated texture, and allows a solo oboe to introduce the opening theme, while pizzicato cellos and a woodwind choir provide accompaniment. Full of rhythmic interest, this movement has frequent meter changes, expectant fermatas, and Brahms' distinctive cross-rhythms.

The moody and unpredictable finale oscillates between manic energy and somberness; Brahms is constantly changing direction, sometimes so abruptly as to pull the rug out from beneath your feet. The motion never stops, and when the final D major fanfare arrives, one has the sense of having been on a wild ride.

Source: Allen Schrott (

See also

Johannes Brahms: Symphony No.2 in D major – Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, David Afkham

Johannes Brahms: Symphony No.2 in D major – Gewandhausorchester, Kurt Masur (HD 1080p)

Live on Livestream: All Past Events

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Dmitri Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor – Leonidas Kavakos, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Jakub Hrůša

Greek violin soloist Leonidas Kavakos performing Dmitri Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor, Op.77, with Czech Philharmonic Orchestra under Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša. Recorded at Rudolfinum, Dvořák Hall, Prague, on October 19, 2017.

As many know, Shostakovich wrote two violin concertos. But his work list suggests two separate versions of the First, the Op.77 and the Op.99. The Violin Concerto No.1 was originally completed in 1948, but withheld for seven years by the composer, owing to the oppressive climate for artists in the Soviet Union at the time. Any new work might have drawn the wrath of Stalin and his cronies in the arts. Shostakovich returned to the score in 1955 and then assigned the higher opus number to it. Actually, the only documented change he made came not as a result of second thoughts, but as a matter of consideration for the soloist. During rehearsals in 1955, the virtuoso violinist David Oistrakh requested of Shostakovich that the opening statement of the fourth movement's main theme be given to the orchestra, so that the soloist could take a rest following the long cadenza which leads right into the finale, and Shostakovich agreed to make the change.

The First Violin Concerto begins as a dark work, full of that gloom and dread that pervade so many of Shostakovich's serious works. The first movement Nocturne starts off with an ominous theme that is both inwardly reflective and filled with foreboding. Midway through, a thinly veiled Dies Irae appears as the music becomes more tense. Yet, a climactic release never quite arrives and the suggested conflicts remain unresolved.

The second movement is a rather diabolical Scherzo that contains some interesting allusions, first to the third movement of the Tenth Symphony (1953) and later to the first movement of the Second Piano Concerto (1957). The violin and woodwinds scurry about to deliver the playful yet menacing material, but gradually the character of the movement becomes more sarcastic, eventually breaking into a hallucinatory folk dance. The latter part of the Scherzo sounds less acidic, the diabolic and sarcastic elements surrender to the driving, insistent energy.

The third movement is a Passacaglia that has a chorale-like quality at the outset, as the woodwinds deliver a mournful theme. The violin enters playing the main theme, one of the composer's loveliest and warmest creations. Shostakovich's 1943 Eighth Symphony's fourth movement also featured a passacaglia, though of a decidedly grimmer character. Here, there is tension, but also much beauty. The latter third of the movement is taken up by a brilliant cadenza, which leads directly into the brief finale, a Burlesque of a mostly festive nature. The mood is similar to that of the faster music in the Tenth Symphony's finale, though there are no clear thematic references. While the work ends triumphantly, its manic qualities suggest a discomfort by the composer, as though the happy resolution might have been disingenuous.

Shostakovich eliminated trumpets and trombones from the orchestration of this Concerto, and his writing is otherwise sensitive to the limited tone of a solo violin playing amid a large ensemble. A typical performance of this work lasts about 35 minutes.

Source: Robert Cummings (

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

♪ Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor, Op.77 (1947-1948)

i. Nocturne (Moderato) [00:34]*
ii. Scherzo (Allegro) [13:07]
iii. Passacaglia (Andante) [20:12]
iii(a). Cadenza
iv. Burlesque (Allegro con brio – Presto) [33:43]

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

♪ Violin Partita No.2 in D minor, BWV 1004 (1720) [43:01]

iii. Sarabande

Leonidas Kavakos, violin

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Jakub Hrůša

 Prague, Rudolfinum, Dvořák Hall, October 19, 2017

(HD 720p)

* Start time of each part

Leonidas Kavakos is recognised across the world as a violinist and artist of rare quality, known at the highest level for his virtuosity, superb musicianship and the integrity of his playing. He works with the world's greatest orchestras and conductors and is an exclusive artist with Decca Classics.

The three important mentors in his life have been Stelios Kafantaris, Josef Gingold and Ferenc Rados. By the age of 21, Leonidas Kavakos had already won three major competitions: the Sibelius Competition in 1985, and the Paganini and Naumburg competitions in 1988. This success led to him recording the original Sibelius Violin Concerto (1903/1904), the first recording of this work in history, and which won Gramophone Concerto of the Year Award in 1991.

Leonidas Kavakos was the winner of the Léonie Sonning Music Prize 2017. This prestigious prize is Denmark's highest musical honour and is awarded annually to an internationally recognised composer, instrumentalist, conductor or singer. Previous winners include Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, Arthur Rubinstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Dmitri Shostakovich, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Mstislav Rostropovich, Pierre Boulez, György Ligeti, Alfred Brendel, Daniel Barenboim and Sir Simon Rattle.

In the 2017-2018 season Kavakos will be Artist in Residence at both the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Vienna Musikverein. He will tour Europe with the Filharmonica della Scala and Chailly and tour Europe and Asia with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Blomstedt. Elsewhere, he will perform widely as soloist including with the Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Kavakos also gives the European premiere of Lera Auerbach's Nyx: Fractured Dreams (Violin Concerto No.4) with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.

In December 2017 Kavakos will embark on a European recital tour with Yuja Wang, and in February 2018 he tours North America performing Brahms and Schubert trios with Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax. He will also appear in recital with regular chamber music partner Enrico Pace in Asia and Europe.

Latterly, Leonidas Kavakos has built a strong profile as a conductor, and has conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Gürzenich Orchester, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Filarmonica Teatro La Fenice, and Budapest Festival orchestras. In the 2017-2018 season he will conduct the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and Vienna Symphony.

As an exclusive recording artists with Decca Classics, his first release was Beethoven Violin Sonatas with Enrico Pace (January 2013), which was awarded the ECHO Klassik "Instrumentalist of the Year". This was followed by the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Riccardo Chailly (October 2013), Brahms Violin Sonatas with Yuja Wang (March 2014), and "Virtuoso" (April 2016). He was awarded Gramophone Artist of the Year 2014. In September 2017 Leonidas Kavakos joins Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax on a record of Brahms Trios released by Sony Classical.

Leonidas Kavakos' earlier discography encompasses recordings for BIS, ECM, and subsequently, for Sony Classical, Mendelssohn Violin Concerto (ECHO Klassik "Best Concerto Recording") and Mozart's Violin Concertos, conducting and playing with Camerata Salzburg.

Born and brought up in a musical family in Athens and still resident there, Kavakos curates an annual violin and chamber-music masterclass in Athens, attracting violinists and ensembles from all over the world and reflecting his deep commitment to the handing on of musical knowledge and traditions. Part of this tradition is the art of violin and bow-making, which Kavakos regards as a great mystery and to this day, an undisclosed secret. He plays the "Willemotte" Stradivarius violin of 1734 and owns modern violins made by F. Leonhard, S. P. Greiner, E. Haahti and D. Bagué.

Source: (2017)

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See also

Sergei Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No.2 in G minor – Leonidas Kavakos, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Valery Gergiev (HD 1080p)

Sergei Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No.1 in D major – Leonidas Kavakos, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Valery Gergiev (HD 1080p)


Johannes Brahms: The Violin Sonatas – Leonidas Kavakos, Yuja Wang (Audio video)

Johannes Brahms: Sonata for piano and violin No.2 in A major – Yuja Wang, Leonidas Kavakos

Maurice Ravel: Sonata for violin and piano No.1 in A minor – Leonidas Kavakos, Yuja Wang

Ottorino Respighi: Violin Sonata in B minor – Leonidas Kavakos, Yuja Wang


Dmitri Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor – Nicola Benedetti, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Søndergård (HD 1080p)

Dmitri Shostakovich – All the posts