15 June 2019
Conductor: William Carslake
Soloist: Hiroko Imai
Stravinsky: Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1947)
Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No. 2
Stravinsky: Concerto in D
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9 in E flat major
Our final concert of the season is a celebration of the work of two Russian composers: Stravinsky and Shostakovich. A highlight of the evening is the latter's second piano concerto which enjoys enduring popularity on account of the soulful and wistful Andante. This, together with the other two vivacious movements, sets the concerto apart from many of the composer's other works in its sense of freedom and abandon. To perform this delightful work, we are very excited to welcome the young Japanese pianist, Hiroko Imai (Photo: Gerhard Flekatsch) who is a multi-award-winning soloist in her native country.
The Stravinsky elements of the concert comprise two works, one for wind instruments and the other for strings. The Symphonies for Wind Instruments, which was composed in 1920 in memory of Claude Debussy, grew from a chorale, drawing on Russian folk idoms. The Concerto in D was composed much later in 1946 just after Stravinsky's naturalisation as a US citizen and reflects his exposure to a diversity of musical styles.
The final work of the season is Shostakovich's 9th Symphony, which was completed just three months after the Allied victory in Europe. In contrast to the majesty and triumphalism the critics were expecting, the symphony is a small-scale almost neoclassical work which reflected Shostakovich's attitude to the political elite; as he said, "I couldn’t write an apotheosis to Stalin, I simply couldn’t". A Russian critic described it as "old man Haydn and a regular American sergeant unsuccessfully made up to look like Charlie Chaplin, with every possible grimace and whimsical gesture." We hope this excites your curiosity enough to make the concert unmissable; why not take to social media and tell us what you think?