Sergei Prokofiev: War and Peace – overture, Op. 91
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35
Sergei Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet – suite, Op. 64a and 64b (excerpts)
Three works whose premiere proved problematic, but today are recognised as some of the most famous pieces of music in the world. Two guest performers who have played from an early age with some of the greatest masters. An unforgettable evening of Russian music.
What half a century ago was considered unplayable from a technical perspective is today part of the standard repertoire. Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto was deemed too difficult by the intended soloist Leopold Auer, and the commissioning theatres were put off by Prokofiev’s opera and ballet music. The opera entitled War and Peace, composed in 1941-1942, is based on Tolstoy’s world-famous novel and is nearly four hours long. The two-part work divides the story into themes of peace and war. The beautiful overture, rich in melodies, evokes peace: it is both heroic and lyrical.
Escaping to the countryside from his disastrous marriage and following a suicide attempt, Tchaikovsky rediscovered his creative powers in Clarens, Switzerland. He sketched out the violin concerto over the course of 11 days in 1878, and then completed it in two weeks. Adolph Brodsky ended up playing the solo at the premier, but some years later the originally intended soloist, Leopold Auer, also performed the piece. This evening, Renaud Capuçon, the former concertmaster of Claudio Abbado, will play what is perhaps the most famous and most difficult violin solo in the world under the direction of Israeli conductor Lahav Shani, himself only 30 years old.
The ballet music to Romeo and Juliet is one of the richest in themes among Prokofiev’s works. Denied a premier, the composer reworked the various movements of his ballet into three suites so that his melodies could still reach audiences. The suites, exceptionally rich in characters and colourful in their orchestration, lent themselves to an exciting selection which, in addition to the famous love theme, will also feature joyful dance and grievous mourning.