Guest conductor Gilbert Varga makes BSO debut
Violinist Midori reunites with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to perform Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 on Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore and Friday, October 22, 2010 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, October 23, 2010 at 8 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The program includes Mikhail Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture and features the BSO accompanying Midori in her performance of Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Also on the program is Stravinsky’s ballet score, Petrouchka, under the baton of conductor Gilbert Varga, making his BSO debut.
Midori is no stranger to Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1. In 2004, she released an album pairing the piece with Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. Receiving rave reviews, Canada’s national newspaper The Globe and Mail described her playing as “an intensity of focus, a lyrical tenderness and a deep sense of the long perspectives and the singular contrasts in this severely demanding work. Such musical acuity, intellectual penetration and technical command are seldom so finely coordinated in any performance.”
In Shostakovich’s time, violin concertos seldom included the dissonant and sarcastic tone of this Concerto. During the reign of Joseph Stalin, composers and other artists were blacklisted for releasing any work that “offended” the Soviet people. Shostakovich was the main “public enemy” for his subtle refusal of Stalin’s ideals. In order to save himself in 1948, Shostakovich hid his Concerto until Stalin’s death in 1953. Once the government’s strictness began to thaw, the Violin Concerto No. 1 premiered with the Leningrad Philharmonic in 1955 and later that year premiered with the New York Philharmonic. Shostakovich was not only welcomed to the United States as an accomplished composer, but his Violin Concerto No. 1 earned acclaim for its virtuosity, imagination and beauty.
Stravinsky originally planned to create The Rite of Spring as his second ballet, but deferred the project to work on Petrouchka. The original score was developed for an enormous orchestra, but in 1947, Stravinsky revised its concert version, reducing the instrumental forces. Petrouchka was inspired by his vision of a carnival puppet and became a bittersweet tale of the love triangle between three puppets at a fair.
Mikhail Glinka grew up in early 1800s Russia that did not have a style of classical music to call its own. Influenced by Western European music and his friendships with Italian opera singers, he was determined to compose in his native style and became the "father of Russian music." Glinka composed the operatic score Ruslan and Ludmilla based on the fairytale by his friend, Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. The tale tells of the beautiful Ludmilla, who is rescued from harm by her true love, Ruslan. After an unenthusiastic premiere, Russians later enjoyed the opera, with its poem inspired by ancient Slavic tales and romantic, passionate music.
COMPLETE CONCERT DETAILS
Midori Plays Shostakovich
Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 8 p.m.—The Music Center at Strathmore
Friday, October 22, 2010 at 8 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Saturday, October 23, 2010 at 8 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Gilbert Varga, conductor †
Glinka: Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture
Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1
† Denotes a BSO artist debut