Overture to Euryanthe
Piano Concerto No. 2
Symphony No. 10
Benjamin Zander, conductor
anna fedOrova, piano
Music has extraordinary power to heal. Rachmaninoff is a case in point. In 1895 the humiliating failure of his First Symphony precipitated a clinical depression that lasted for five years, during which he was unable to compose. But, finally, a brilliant experimental hypnotherapist was able to crack the shell, and when he started to composer again – the Second Piano Concerto – the music flowed as never before. That familiar sound world that we associate with his name begins with this work, not before it.
A piece so loved, so well known as “Rach 2” barely needs to be described. But it does need to be stressed that this work was once new, that it once impressed audiences because of its originality, not its familiarity. It is this sense of stumbling upon a new and very original musical landscape that these performances will be attempting to rediscover. And leading this voyage of discovery will be the uncannily eloquent Ukrainian pianist Anna Fedorova, who has become world famous because of her performances of this work. You can hear one of them on Youtube. In fact, there is a large statistical possibility that you already have heard that performance, since as of this writing 18,260,589 viewers have watched her video!
Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony premiered some months after the death of Shostakovich’s nemesis, Stalin. It is a deeply moving and enigmatic work, in which persecution, specifically the Stalinist terror, is just one of a complex of elements. The second movement – perhaps the most terrifying music Shostakovich ever composed – may be a portrait of Stalin himself, although we will probably never know for sure. The work is studded with autobiographical references of various kinds, conferring on it a very deep emotional subtext. It ends in triumph, although in Shostakovich triumph can always be an ambiguous thing. But what is clear as day is that the Shostakovich Tenth is thrilling to play and thrilling to listen to.
And to open the program is a short piece that neither the BPO nor the BPYO has ever performed but which is dear to Mr. Zander’s heart, Weber’s overture to his opera Euryanthe. Written in 1823, it anticipates, as does much of Weber’s music, the moods and mores that were to dominate German music until the end of the 19th century. Exuberant and exhilarating, it packs a great deal of Weber’s often other-worldly fantasy into its short duration.
All dates, repertoire, venues, and artists subject to change.