Shostakovich | Brahms | POSTPONED!


28 March 2020, 7 p.m.
The Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio of Polish Radio, Warsaw

Alicja Śmietana | violin
Jerzy Semkow Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra
Marek Pijarowski | conductor

Dmitri Shostakovich – The Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Opus 77
Johannes Brahms – Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68

fot. Łukasz Rajchert

Johannes Brahms, after the failure of Piano Concerto No. 1 (1859), badly received by the audience and critics, did not present a new work with the participation of a great orchestra for almost two decades. Although he began sketching the first one of his four symphonies as early as in 1855, the performance of the final version took place over 20 years later, in 1876! At that time it was received with enthusiasm, and many critics compared it with Beethoven’s works, calling it emphatically “the Tenth” – to a certain irritation of the author himself, who indeed adored the last of the classics and considered himself his spiritual heir, but certainly not an epigone. Despite its externally classical features, Symphony in C minor is imbued with extremely romantic expression. The introduction that opens this work of art is very impressive, against the background of beats in the kettledrums rhythmical as a heartbeat. The external (and immediately noticed by the audience) reference to Beethoven is the sublime, hymnal character of the main theme of the finale, which seems to refer to the melody of Ode to Joy from his Ninth Symphony.

Among the composers of the 20th century, few were as devoted to the symphonic genre as Dmitry Shostakovich, and his formally diverse and delightfully expressive works of the genre have entered the philharmonic canon for good. What is interesting – only three “pairs” of concertos came out of his writing, two for violin, two for cello and two for piano, and popularity of these works, although extremely valuable, is generally surpassed by the popularity of the symphonies. All the more reason to appreciate the opportunity to admire the beautiful and very original construction of the Concerto No. 1 in A minor for violin and orchestra. It was written in a particularly difficult, post-war period of intensified Stalinist repressions and pressure on the composers – it was one of the works written “to the drawer” at the time, and had to wait for the triumphant premiere in 1955, when it was performed by the brilliant David Oistrakh (who also consulted the details of the violin’s texture) after the dictator’s death.

The solo part of the Concerto will be performed by the excellent violinist Alicja Śmietana, who had her international debut during a concert with the Academy of Martin in the Fields Orchestra under Sir Neville Marriner in 2003. Since then, she has worked as a soloist with many world-renowned orchestras and chamber ensembles and has won numerous international competitions, awards and scholarships. In 2009 she was invited by Nigel Kennedy to co-found and co-direct the new Orchestra of Life, with which she performed in the most important concert halls in Europe.

The conductor of the concert Marek Pijarowski is one of the leading Polish conductors of his generation, active on many international stages, appreciated as a teacher and a jury member of various competitions. After having studied at the Academy of Music in Wrocław in the class of Tadeusz Strugała, he perfected his skills in Weimar with Arvid Jansons and in Vienna with Carl Österreicher. In 1975 he was appointed the second conductor, and from 1980 to 2002 he was the General and Artistic Director of the Wroclaw Philharmonic. Currently he is the chief conductor of the Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra. [Piotr Maculewicz]

Sinfonia Iuventus reserves right to introduce changes to the programme and performers.