Cancelled: Somewhere

Thursday 13.5.2021 19.00 Spring Series 2 & 3
Espoo Cultural Centre
Spring Series 2 Spring Series 3
Thursday 13.5.2021 19.00 Espoo Cultural Centre
Spring Series 2 Spring Series 3

“Somewhere” concert has been cancelled.
Instead of it there will be “Serenade for Spring” concert on 13th May 2021on YouTube.

The concluding concert of the season opens with Sebastian Fagerlund’s fast-pulsating string orchestra work Strings to the Bone. Pianist Mackenzie Melemed, who charmed Finnish audiences in the Maj Lind Competition in 2017, brings a selection of Slavic music to follow.. Shostakovich´s Symphony No. 1  nourish the mind and the soul.

The program is subject to change.

Artists

Program

Sebastian Fagerlund

Strings to the Bone

Over the past decade or so, Sebastian Fagerlund has risen brilliantly to the forefront of Finnish music. His works are frequently performed in Finland and abroad, recordings are regularly released, and his publisher is the distinguished Edition Peters, allowing him to pick and choose his commissions.
Fagerlund draws on the great classics of the 20th century as well as on genres beyond art music, such as various brands of world music, but ultimately he fuses all his influences into a coherent and consistent voice of his own. His instrumentally charged, compelling idiom ranges from powerful rhythmic pulsation to the captivating intensity of static quiet moments.
In the 2010s, Fagerlund focused on orchestral works, concertos and chamber music, his only albeit significant venture into vocal music being the opera Höstsonaten [Autumn Sonata] (2015–2017), one of his major works. He completed Strings to the Bone for string orchestra immediately before the opera (2014–2015) to a commission from the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, and it was premiered under Daniel Blendulf in Kokkola in February 2016.
Dominated by a rich, densely pulsating string texture, Strings to the Bone is a fine example of the rhythmic energy of Fagerlund’s music. He himself describes it as an “intense virtuoso piece, almost shamanist, ranging from grand harmonies and large structures to an almost minimalist movement on the detail level”. Still, it is not all a mad rush, since typically for Fagerlund the work also contains a contrasting tranquil section from which soaring melodic material emerges. Fagerlund has also noted that although there are no direct references to folk music in the work, the musical heritage of Central Ostrobothnia and the orchestra’s and his own affinity to folk music did influence some of its musical events.

Serge Rachmaninov

Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini op. 43

For Serge Rachmaninov, the Russian Revolution and his subsequent emigration in December 1917 were a traumatic experience that paralysed his creative powers for many years. His first post-emigration work, Piano Concerto no. 4, was not completed until eight years later, and in the last 25 years of his life he only wrote six new works. Then again, this was partly due to the fact that most of his time was taken up by his brilliant career as a concert pianist.
In the few works that he did write after leaving Russia, Rachmaninov never abandoned his late Romantic roots, although his music did acquire a sharper tone. A case in point is Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini (1934), one of his best-known works. Despite its title, the piece is not a free-form rhapsody but a set of variations on Paganini’s Caprice no. 24. The theme of that Caprice is particularly well suited for variations – indeed, the Caprice is itself a set of virtuoso variations on its theme. Variations on the theme were also written in their day by composers such as Schumann, Liszt, Brahms and Lutosławski.
In the Paganini Rhapsody, Rachmaninov shows his prowess in creating variations, and in terms of the keyboard skills required it is on a par with many a concerto. The theme does not appear until after the Introduction and Variation 1, as the violins play it in Variation 2. The work consists of no fewer than 24 closely linked variations, divided into three main sections, which has led to parallels being drawn with the traditional three-movement concerto form: an opening movement (Variations 1–10), a slow movement (11–18) and a fast finale (19–24). The equivalence is not exact, however, because Variation 7 in the middle of the first fast section is slow, and there similarly are faster variations in the ‘slow movement’. In Variation 7, Rachmaninov introduces his personal signature motif, derived from the Medieval Dies irae sequence, and this recurs later in the work. The emotional core of the work is the utterly Romantic, sentimentally glowing concluding Variation of the slow section (18), where the Paganini theme appears inverted.

Dmitri Shostakovich

Symphony no. 1 in F minor op. 10

Few composers have made a breakthrough as electrifying as Dmitri Shostakovich. He was only 19 years old when his First Symphony (1924–1925) was premiered in Leningrad in May 1926. The applause was tumultuous, and the audience even demanded that the scherzo be repeated. Within a few years, the Symphony was being performed around the world: conducted by Bruno Walter in Berlin and by Leopold Stokowski in the USA and somewhat later taken up by Otto Klemperer and Arturo Toscanini.
Shostakovich’s First Symphony was his final thesis at the Leningrad Conservatory. His composition teacher Maximilian Steinberg realised the value of the work and gave the score to Nikolai Malko, the conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic. Equally convinced of its merit, Malko agreed to conduct it.
The Symphony is astonishingly original in its expression. From its opening measures, with a muted trumpet motif responded to by a bassoon, it creates an innovatively lucid and astringent sound world. The orchestration is confident, precise and well measured. Compared with many of Shostakovich’s later Symphonies, this one is more compact and fresher in appearance, but the composer’s hallmark avoidance of romantic sentimentality in favour of ironic twists is already present in full bloom.
As one might expect from a student work, the Symphony is neatly packaged into the traditional four movements. The hesitant introduction is followed by a concise sonata-form main section. The second movement is a scherzo that finds its footing after a slightly fumbling start. Its Trio section is hauntingly austere, and in the striking conclusion of the movement the themes of its two main sections are superimposed. The third movement is melodic and grows to a glowing intensity before proceeding without a break into the finale that brings the work to a triumphant close.

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