Beethoven | Musorgski
Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major was dubbed “Emperor” while the composer was still alive, although – as is the case of most such monikers – it did not come from him (the sometimes-quoted anecdote of a French officer who, having heard the concert, supposedly exclaimed “C’est l’empereur!” almost certainly belong with Beethoven “apocrypha”). Perhaps the name was due to the dedication of the piece to Archduke Rudolf Hapsburg, or – what is more likely – the heroic, monumental, and even military character of the work, already foreshadowed by the tone of Eroica. The world premiere took place in Leipzig in 1811. Beethoven, almost completely deaf by this time, did not undertake the performance of the solo part, which was the rule during his previous concerts – it was performed by Friedrich Schneider instead. Several months later, in February 1812, the piece was presented in the Vienna auditorium for the first time, and the performer was outstanding pianist Carl Czerny, a student of Beethoven’s. However, the reception was surprisingly cool – it was not the first or the last time that an innovative masterpiece was more than the tastes of the conservative Vienna audience could bear. The part of the orchestra is even more independent here than in Concerto No. 4, and this treatment is a preview of the “symphonic” concerts of the era of Romanticism and Neo-Romanticism – it is no wonder then that the great Romantic pianists, especially Clara Schumann and Franz Liszt, played this concerto more eagerly than any of Beethoven’s others. The concerto will be performed by Eugen Indjic – an American Pianist of Russian-Serbian descent, winner of the 4th prize at the 8th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. The artist, who is among the most prominent pianists of his generation, is a particularly acclaimed performer of the Romantic repertoire, especially the music of Chopin, as well as the Neo- and Post-Romantics: Liszt, Rachmaninov, and others.
In August 1873, Viktor Hartmann, Russian painter, draughtsman, book illustrator and architect, died suddenly at the age of 39. He had a close friendship with Modest Mussorgsky, who was significantly affected by the painter’s death. Hartmann was soon commemorated by an exhibition of paintings, drawings, watercolours, sketches, and architectural projects. Mussorgsky himself loaned several works by Hartman from his own collection, and recalled that he perceived the works very “musically” – while touring the exhibition, themes and motifs sprang to his mind, which he quickly wrote down and so in June 1874, the Pictures at an Exhibition suite was created, called an “album” by the composer himself. He immortalised ten visions of Hartmann in the sounds, connecting them by with the motif of the Promenade, arch-Russian in its melody and gesture – a symbol of moving through the rooms of the exhibition. What is interesting, most of the inspirations fort the cycle that would become almost emblematic of Russian music at the time came from Hartmann’s travels outside of Russia. Thus, there are sketches from a visit to Sandomierz in Poland (the composer captured the portraits of two local Jews in “Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle”, a miniature that suggestively contrasts both figures), as well as images from Paris (“Tuileries” and “Catacombs”), from a noisy marketplace in Limoges (fascinated with the city, Hartmann immortalised it in more than 150 watercolours!). “The Old Castle” was also a French castle, although the cantilena sung by the minstrel under the city walls carries a rather eastern note. The Baba Yaga in her gloomy hut on a chicken leg, however, has a definitely Slavic pedigree (the hut inspired Hartmann to design a clock), while “The Bogatyr Gates” shows the splendour of Russia, inspired by a never-complete architectural project. It is difficult to believe that Mussorgsky’s brilliant suite was not noticed at all during his lifetime; he himself never strove for it, because although he gave public concerts, he never performed the work anywhere, most
likely considering it too personal and extravagant. It was not appreciated until the 20th century, especially thanks to a dazzling orchestration by Ravel (1922), who was enchanted by the complex piano texture of Mussorgsky’s miniatures. Taking his place at the conductor’s pulpit will be Juozas Domarkas, an extremely distinguished Lithuanian conductor, a long-time head of the National Symphony Orchestra in Vilnius and a respected lecturer at the Warsaw Academy of Music.
Eugen Indjic | piano
Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra
Juozas Domarkas | conductor
Ludwig van Beethoven V Piano Concerto in Es-flat major, op. 73
Modest Musorgski Pictures at an Exhibition (orchestration by Ravel)
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