BERLIOZ Le Corsaire: Overture
SAINT-SAËNS Piano Concerto No.5, ‘Egyptian’
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No.10
Vasily Petrenko Conductor
Alexandre Kantorow Piano
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Forever overshadowed by political demands, Shostakovich is perhaps at his most enigmatic in his Symphony No.10, written following his denunciation and abandonment by the post-Second World War Stalinist regime. The Russian composer captures the weight of a near twenty-five year-long dictatorship with an introspective and deeply personal meditation that palpably conveys the instability and anxiety of his status. The waltz tempo of the first movement transforms into an atmosphere of gripping terror and uncertainty, before outright hysteria overtakes the second movement. Coded themes and fanfares lie hidden within the texture of the solemn and macabre third and fourth movements, most famously Shostakovich’s own musical signature, ‘DSCH’. In the face of insurmountable pressure, Shostakovich affirms the subversive power of music to embody a defiant message against tyranny.
Saint-Saën’s Piano Concerto No.5, ‘Egyptian’, is performed by Alexandre Kantorow, a pianist of ‘mesmerising talent’ (The Moscow Times) and winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2019, who brings vitality and vigour to the iconic French composer’s final concerto for piano. The concerto incorporates an array of Asian and Middle-Eastern musical influences in a beautiful and vibrant expression of Romantic lyricism. Berlioz’s Le Corsaire opens the evening with a miniature seascape portrait, bursting to life with manic energy in the strings that soon gives way to a serene contemplation of the coast of Nice.
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