Szymanowki and Shostakovich
orks by Szymanowski and Shostakovich yesterday evening at the Royal Festival Hall, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Jurowski.
The main work in the first half was Szymanowski's first Violin Concerto (1916), played by Carolin Widmann. It's a lyrical work, though complex both thematically and in its orchestration (which is as richly textured as anything by Ravel or Debussy, though a good deal more spiky). The main melodic theme emerges only slowly out of the complex and often dissonant construction, and builds to a majestic climax. Carolin Widmann played it with a heartfelt passion which received a fully deserved ovation.
The first half began with Shostakovich's 'Five Fragments Op.42' from 1935: these were sketches for the 4th Symphony, though in fact only the last has anything to do with the final result, and were never really intended for performance - they were not performed until 1965. The Symphony itself, which took up the second half of the concert, was written in the aftermath of the official criticism and condemnation of his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, when Shostakovich felt that he had in effect become a musical 'unperson' and had no future. The symphony reflects his depression and despair; though it was completed and indeed rehearsed he wisely withdrew it - it would have made his name even more mud in the idiotic political atmosphere of the time. He redeemed himself with the ostensibly cheerful Fifth Symphony, and the Fourth was not performed until 1961.
It's long - over an hour - and utilizes a huge orchestra (including 13 percussionists); angrily discordant in many places but with occasional flashes of sardonic wit - a pawky funeral march, a little waltz for mismatched instruments - but finally sinking into a depressed minor key conclusion. It's not an easy listen, but the commitment and precision of the orchestra and the tight control of the sprawling contstruction by Jurowski made it a journey worth taking.
Posted: Sun - January 17, 2010 at 09:22 AM by Roger Wilmut
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Published On: Mar 11, 2016 05:00 PM