The winner of the 8th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition is coming to Warsaw again. This time, we will hear his interpretation of Johannes Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto in B flat major, about which, in the summer of 1881, the composer wrote, in a letter to friends: ‘I have written a very small piano concerto with a very small and pretty scherzo’. In another letter, he stressed: ‘this concerto can measure up to any other! It surpasses them all in terms of length’. The Budapest premiere of this work proved a great success, and this monumental four-movement ‘very small concerto’, symphonic in spirit, became one of the most popular masterworks of the piano.
In 1907 the people of Paris had the chance to attend two productions of Salome within a period of just six months: Richard Strauss’s opera and Florent Schmitt’s ballet music. The biblical tale of Salome is a remarkable text, pulsating with intense emotions from the very edge of human experience. The Dance of the Seven Veils, the most famous excerpt from Strauss’s opera Salome, is a real drama of sensuality, desire, revenge and tenebrous ecstasy. One is hardly surprised that it gained a life of its own on concert platforms. Both works – by Strauss and Schmitt – delight the ear with their colourful orchestration, deft stylisation and colouristic refinement, reviving – each in its own way – a myth of enduringly magnetic power.