Hall: Concert Hall
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The folklore of his beloved Moravia was frequently reflected in the works of Bohuslav Martinů, especially in the long years of emigration and homesickness. His concertante piece, Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra, departs from the neo‑ Classical style of the composer’s earlier works in favour of broad Romantic phrases and euphonic tonality. Among the solo and tutti parts, the viola is given pride of place, and its potential for the cantilena is particularly beautifully highlighted.
After the premiere of his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, which scandalised Stalin himself, the Soviet authorities condemned Shostakovich as a formalist. This accusation also concerned his Symphony No. 4. Now in disfavour, Shostakovich was forced to present official self‑criticism, and the planned premiere (1936) of his new symphony was cancelled. The Fifth Symphony was supposed to be a kind of expiation. Its premiere (by Leningrad Philharmonic under Mravinsky) was preceded by a humiliating press article which claimed that the symphony was “a Soviet artist’s creative response to well‑ deserved criticism.” However, Shostakovich’s concessions to the demands of the oppressive authorities proved rather superficial. The melodies and form are more traditional, there are fewer dissonances, but the work contains a number of mysterious allusions – as in the heart‑ rending Largo (which is said to have moved the audience to tears during the premiere), where the composer quotes the Habanera from the opera Carmen, but also in references to Russian Orthodox liturgy for the dead. Most telling is Shostakovich’s self‑ quotation from the song Vozrozhdenije to the words of Pushkin’s poem about a barbarian painter who painted over the work of a genius, which will, however, re‑ emerge one day... These and other hidden codes, deciphered only years later by insightful scholars, reflect the composer’s dramatic struggle for autonomy in the times of oppression and political crimes. But even without the awareness of the encoded messages, the Fifth is a symphonic masterpiece, one of the 20th‑ century’s most outstanding works.
You are invited to this concert by Carolina Car Company - the Warsaw Philharmonic Partner