Mot-clef : Dmitri Shostakovich

Gustavo Gimenez/conductor
Photo: Marco Borggreve

Gustavo Gimeno in Britten and Shostakovich with the Finnish RSO

One of the most immediately appealing aspects of cellist Tomas Nuñez-Garcés' performance was his understated confidence and assured virtuosity. Benjamin Britten and Dmitri Shostakovich were two of the greatest composers of the 20th century. In addition to being  admirers of  each other's work, they also shared a common link with one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century: Mstislav Rostropovich. This evening's program featured one of Shostakovich's most popular and accessible ...
Kostas Smoriginas, credit Monika Penkutė

Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 at Prague Spring

The Prague Philharmonic and Kühn choirs just might have stolen the show with their power, clear diction, and their ability to conjure up countless shades of color. There are certainly many approaches to putting together a program of orchestral music. Are the works selected based on a common theme or source of inspiration? From a common historical era? Or do the works greatly contrast from each other, giving the audience the ...
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Sir Mark Elder in Britten and Shostakovich

Elder's performance of Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem could become a reference. There may not be many obvious stylistic similarities between the orchestral works of Benjamin Britten and Dmitri Shostakovich. Nevertheless, both composers sought to communicate immediately and directly with their audiences, while adhering to traditional concepts such as harmony, rhythm, and the symphony as a form. In this evening's program, Sir Mark Elder succinctly described these particular qualities in his opening remarks, before ...
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All-Russian with Susanna Mälkki and the Helsinki Philharmonic

With Mälkki on the podium, the Helsinki Philharmonic has to be heard to be believed. The appointment of Susanna Mälkki as the next music director of the Helsinki Philharmonic has been met with an almost overwhelming sense of elation among Helsinki audiences. Nevertheless, there may be a sense of fear in some corners that contemporary music will be featured even more prominently with Mälkki on the podium. A brief review ...
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Finnish premiere of Magnus Lindberg’s Second Piano Concerto

Nicolas Hodges brought a degree of refinement and grace to Lindberg's often percussive writing. Magnus Lindberg's tenure as composer-in-residence with the New York Philharmonic resulted in several new works, including his second piano concerto. Dedicated to Yefim Bronfman, the concerto was clearly conceived with Bronfman's imposing virtuosity in mind. Similar to the other works from Lindberg's New York tenure, the second piano concerto radiates with both exuberance and joy. One of the ...
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Barnabás Kelemen plays Bartók with the Helsinki Philharmonic

One of the most notable qualities of Bartók's work as a composer is his successful integration of traditional folk musics into a conventional Western classical music aesthetic. In this evening's performance, Bartók specialist Barnabás Keleman eloquently demonstrated these two sides in a selection of his countryman's music for violin and orchestra. Shostakovich's enigmatic Symphony No. 6 rounded out the program. The first half of the program featured two of Bartók's works for violin ...
Julian Steckel cello

All-Russian evening with the Helsinki Philharmonic

Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 is firmly established in the core repertoire of just about every cellist on the international circuit, and performances of this work are sufficiently frequent that one might take this masterpiece for granted. Perhaps this is the case, but it is likely that this work does strike at least some fear in the hearts of most cellists. Shostakovich demands near superhuman technical prowess and almost non-stop ...
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Andrew Litton conducts all-Russian program with the Tampere Philharmonic

The American conductor Andrew Litton is known in the Nordic orchestral world through his work in Bergen, although he has not been engaged by the major Finnish orchestras, at least in recent years. This evening's program opened with Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmila overture, the only light-hearted work on a mostly somber program. Immediately noticeable from the outset was the precision of the Tampere strings, who handled the vigorous opening with both ...
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Excellent, but necessary? Christian Tetzlaff plays Shostakovich’s Violin Concertos

The Finnish record label Ondine seems to be quite interested in Shostakovich right now. Since late 2013, Ondine has released four Shostakovich discs: two featuring vocal-orchestral works, and two featuring the string concertos, including the present release. While the former two discs feature relatively unknown works, the violin and cello concertos are firmly established in the repertoire and have been extensively recorded before. Given the multitude of available options, one ...
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Sibelius Academy Summer Young Talent Series: Elisa Rusi-Matero, violin

One of reasons why classical music continues to thrive in Finland is due to the steady stream of extraordinarily talented musicians trained at the Sibelius Academy. The Summer Young Talent Series provides these musicians a public forum for their artistry, which is particularly welcome during the relatively quiet Helsinki summer concert season. On this occasion the violinist Elisa Rusi-Matero presented a varied program of mostly 20th and 21st century works. The ...
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Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at the Helsinki Festival

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, despite being one of Canada's flagship ensembles, has had a difficult recent history. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the orchestra struggled with financial difficulties, a musician's strike, poor attendance, and a seeming lack of public sympathy to the orchestra's situation. Some even wondered if the orchestra would survive. The fact that the ensemble has risen from the abyss and is now touring some of Europe's ...
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Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts all-Shostakovich at the Helsinki Festival

The Finnish musical world is rightly proud of its many conductors working on the international circuit, but there seems to be an extra layer of excitement and anticipation whenever Esa-Pekka Salonen is performing in Helsinki. In a YouTube video produced by the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, Salonen calls Orango and the Symphony No. 4 as the "two sides of Shostakovich." Written within a few years of each other, both works display ...
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A journey with quater tones, and death: Hannu Lintu conducts the Tapiola Sinfonietta

For both musicians and audiences only familiar with the Western chromatic scale of 12 pitches, listening to music which employs quarter tones can be a disorienting experience. If a composer wishes to write a piece which employs quarter tones as an integral part of the musical fabric, as opposed to simple extensions of color, the role of each quarter tone pitch needs to be firmly established within the harmonic vocabulary ...