St Petersburg, Concert Hall

Dvořák. Tchaikovsky. Smetana. Rimsky-Korsakov

Soloist: Alexei Lukirsky (violin)
The Mariinsky Youth Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Anton Gakkel

Antonín Dvořák
Carnaval, concert overture, Op. 92

Pyotr Tchaikovsky (marking 175 years since the composer’s birth)
Five Pieces for Violin and Orchestra

Bedřich Smetana
Vlatva, symphonic poem from the cycle Má vlast

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34

About the Concert

In the early 1890s Antonín Dvořák conceived a symphonic triptych entitled Nature, Life, Love. The idea was realised and at the premiere the three works were performed as an integral cycle. Later, the parts of the triptych began to be performed individually as concert overtures and were given the titles of In Nature’s Realm, Carnival and Othello. The impetuous and life-affirming character of the outer sections reminds one of the composer’s Slavonic Dances. The brief middle movement is a lyrical intermezzo that depicts images of nature. Against a background of a repetitive three-tone motif of the English horn there are solo responses from the flute, clarinet and violin.

In addition to his Violin Concerto, Pyotr Tchaikovsky wrote five other pieces for the instrument and orchestra. They were all composed in the latter half of the 1870s. Melancholy Serenade was initially dedicated to the renowned violinist Leopold Auer, but when Auer rejected Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto the composer removed his dedication. As a result, the first performer of both the concerto and the serenade was Adolph Brodsky. In the music of the Serenade one can pick out the lyricism of Swan Lake. The melancholy mood of the outer sections is created by the romance-like intonations of the violin, while in the middle movement there are triumphant light and elegiac moods.

The virtuoso Valse-Scherzo was composed for Tchaikovsky’s friend and pupil Iosif Kotek.

Méditation, Scherzo and Mélodie form part of the cycle Souvenir d’un lieu cher. These were composed for violin and piano, though Alexander Glazunov produced an orchestral version after Tchaikovsky’s death. By “un lieu cher (a dear place)” Tchaikovsky had meant the town of Brailov close to the estate of his friend Nadezhda von Meck.

The virtuoso, flight-filled Scherzo in the spirit of a tarantella comes next to the Mélodie in the cycle – a miniature song without words – and the restrained and lyrical Méditation. The music of the latter was initially to be included in a violin concerto, but in the event Tchaikovsky transformed it into the basis of his famous Canzonetta.

The cycle of six symphonic poems Má vlast by Bedřich Smetana is his greatest achievement in orchestral music. The most popular of the six poems is Vlatva, the name of the greatest river in the Czech Republic. The programme of the poem is related in detail by the composer: “The work depicts the path of the Vlatva from its very sources”. In the music one can hear the calls of hunting horns, the sounds of a peasant polka and the night-time chorus songs of mermaids. In the culmination of the poem (with the composer’s remark “the powerful flow of the Vlatva”) one can hear a motif of the Vyšehrad Castle from the first poem in the cycle.
Vladimir Khavrov

Glinka’s Spanish overtures laid the basis to an engaging chapter in the history of Russian classical music. “Russian Spain” came to life in masterpieces by Dargomyzhsky and Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky and Glazunov, Prokofiev and Shostakovich...
Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol (1887) emerged from sketches for a fantasia concertante for violin and orchestra based on Spanish folk themes. The composer’s initial idea developed and expanded far beyond the realms of a fantasia or suite founded on folkloric motifs. Before us we have a dazzling orchestral concerto – one of the first such examples in Russian music. In the five movements of the Capriccio we can imagine Spain in song and dance (Rimsky-Korsakov borrowed genuine folk themes from José Inzenga’s Collection of Folk Songs and Dances).
Thanks to the varicoloured yet transparent orchestration, colourfulness and richness of flavour (in particular the castanets included in the percussion section), the score of Capriccio espagnol is a veritable encyclopaedia of orchestral mastery.
The first performance of Capriccio espagnol took place in St Petersburg on 5 December 1887 under the baton of the composer.
Iosif Raiskin

About the performers

The Mariinsky Youth Philharmonic was founded in 1999 on the initiative of Valery Gergiev with the aim of training the next generation of theatre musicians and perfecting their performing skills. From that day to this, the orchestra has seen a constant flow of new young musicians. Since its inception, the orchestra has been conducted by such maestri as Gianandrea Noseda, Algirdas Paulavičius and Valery Gergiev himself, thus ensuring the continuity of traditions and involving young performers in the established routine of theatre life. The orchestra has also been conducted by Vladimir Feltsman, François Xavier-Roth, Kazuhiko Komatsu, Daniel Smith and young conductors from Russia, the USA, Greece and China who trained under Ilya Musin. The orchestra made its first independent appearance in 1999 at the Stars of the White Nights festival when it featured in a performance of the opera Le nozze di Figaro. That same year saw the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra undertake its first tour to cities in Italy. The ensemble went on to perform in Finland, Germany and Japan.
Thanks to the opening of the Mariinsky II the orchestra now has increased opportunities to present the public with its own unique programmes.

Age category 6+

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