Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Tchaikovsky
Based in Philadelphia, Enchantment Theatre Company has been producing shows for kids and families since 2000. The company works solely on the basis of classics of children's literature. Enchantment Theatre has been invited by over 60 orchestras, all over North America as well as in the Far East, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
SPOTLIGHT ON TCHAIKOVSKY
All music enhances emotions, but few composers seem to have touched listeners as much as Tchaikovsky. As Leopold Stokowski put it: "His musical utterance comes directly from the heart and is a spontaneous expression of his innermost feeling. It is as sincere as if it were written with his blood." Russian conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky, who in his career has made more than 500 recordings, bears a faithful love for Tchaikovsky (having among other feats conducted The Nutcracker at the Bolshoi when just twenty years old), and presents a program featuring two works of the composer's: the renowned Piano Concerto, an ideal vehicle for virtuosity and lyricism here interpreted by his wife, Viktoria Postnikova, who was a prize-winner at the Tchaikovsky Competition while still a student.
Manfred, a symphonic work in four scenes after the poem of the same name by Lord Byron, occupied Tchaikovsky for the whole summer of 1885. "I've carried out your wish," he would write to composer Mily Balakirev, at whose bequest he composed the work. "I worked on the Manfred score without a break, over four months (from late May to today). It was a very difficult task, but also a very agreeable one, especially when, after straining to get through the beginning, I began to be absorbed by it. Of course, I have no way of knowing whether this symphony will please you or not, but believe me when I say, never at any point in my life have I exerted myself in such a fashion, not exhausted myself as much in my work." The composition, which premiered in Moscow in March 1886, was well received by the public.
THE SLAVIC SOUL: FROM BORODIN TO PUSHKIN
Chamber music with OSM musicians / Music between the lines
If Pushkin and Tolstoy, each in his own way, redefined the contours of Russian literature, Tchaikovsky and Borodin did likewise in their musical works. Constantly divided between his professional duties (both as a doctor and a professor of chemistry, a researcher and a translator) and his many musical activities, Borodin remained a master of chamber music. His Second Quartet, with its famous "Notturno," was dedicated to his wife, an excellent pianist, on the occasion of their twentieth anniversary. Tchaikovsky, meanwhile, in his Quartet No. 1 - the first quartet written by a Russian composer, incidentally - comes as close as possible to pure music and achieves a remarkable structural balance.
Texts by great Russian authors take on another dimension here, when juxtaposed with two essential scores from the Russian chamber-music repertoire.
DENIS MATSUEV AND RACHMANINOV'S THIRD CONCERTO
Russian conductor Mikhail Pletnev, a prize-winner as a pianist at the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1978 and artistic director and founder of the Russian National Orchestra, presents a program showcasing two essential scores from his country's repertoire.
A series of tableaux rather than a danced story, The Seasons by Alexander Glazunov derives nonetheless from the tradition of the great ballets of Tchaikovsky, with its sumptuous orchestration and the evocative power of its descriptions. The ballet, which premiered in 1900, opens with "Winter," and we hear an introduction followed by a series of four variations representing hoarfrost, ice, hail and snow, respectively. Québec music lovers and television viewers will have no trouble recognizing "Autumn," which for a long time served as the theme music for the popular soap opera Les belles histoires des pays d'en haut.
The second part of the concert will be devoted to Rachmaninov's mythical Piano Concerto No. 3, a work of enormous technical difficulty, one that demands both virtuosity and poetry from the soloist. It will be performed by Denis Matsuev, grand-prize winner at the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1998, who "literally possesses the sort of technique which begins where others end," according to Gramophone magazine, and who bowled over critics and audience alike when he gave this concerto with the Mariinsky Orchestra in Montreal in March 2010. Matsuev works in close collaboration with the Sergei Rachmaninov Foundation and its president, Alexander Rachmaninov, grandson of the composer. He was chosen by the Foundation to perform and record unpublished pieces by Rachmaninov on the composer's piano and in his home, Villa Senar in Switzerland.
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