Paderewski | Borodin | Dukas
25 January 2020, 7:00 p.m.
Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw – Concert Hall
Pavel Dombrovsky – piano
Jerzy Semkow Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra
Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk – conductor
Ignacy Jan Paderewski – Piano Concerto in A minor
Alexander Borodin – Polovtsian Dances from the opera Prince Igor
Paul Dukas – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
phot. Vera Zhuravleva
Alexander Borodin, the oldest of a group of composers which went down in the history of music as the Mighty Handful, was a chemist by education and profession (with a number of outstanding achievements in this field of research) who only occasionally wrote music. Although a ‘dilettante’, as he would introduce himself on many occasions, his technique was excellent, and his works – especially the symphonies and the poem In the Steppes of Central Asia – entered the canon of Russian music as its centrepieces. Written over a period of 18 years, the opera Prince Igor was left unfinished by the author and taken through to completion by N. Rimsky-Korsakov and A. Glazunov. Ecstatic, exotic and energetic, the Polovtsian Dances (the Polovtsians being a mystery people from the steppes of the present-day Kazakhstan and fringe of Siberia whom the eponymous character invades) were among the fragments which the author wrote first, and nowadays – performed as a separate piece – they are regarded as symphonic ‘hits’.
Paul Dukas, a contemporary and friend of the famous Claude Debussy, is an author somewhat forgotten in the present day. While only few of his works reappear on stage at concert halls and theatres (and in fact not many of them survive as the self-critical author destroyed a major part of his oeuvre), his name has been immortalized by a symphonic scherzo The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, based on J.W. Goethe’s playful ballad. Full of tongue-in-cheek horror, the work describes the havoc wreaked by an enchanted broom (symbolized by grotesque bassoon sounds) which breaks loose from a young sorcerer – the piece is a ‘textbook’ example of the programme music, which follows the literary original with its sounds.
Pavel Dombrovsky, an outstanding Russian pianist and winner of many prestigious competitions, performs the Piano Concerto in A minor by Ignacy Jan Paderewski, a pianist, composer and statesman. Full of spectacular virtuosity, this piece was written by Paderewski at 28, on the brink of his fame, which came relatively late. What certainly gave it wings was the breathtaking success of his Paris recital in 1888, which opened the door to this fame. What also raised the author’s spirits was an enthusiastic opinion from Camille Saint-Saëns, whom Paderewski shyly requested to review his music. Also the success of the world premiere (with the participation of Anette Essipoff, performing under the baton of the great Hans Richter) confirmed that his work was a masterpiece, marking the beginning of his long career on the world’s stages. Of course, through its beautiful stylisations of national motifs, it is close to the Polish audience’s heart in particular. The concert is directed by Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk, the Art Director of the Henryk Mikołaj Górecki Silesian Philharmonic and Art Council Member/ Art Coordinator of the Jerzy Semkow Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra. [By Piotr Maculewicz]