Concert

Programme guide

“The first notes of Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto rarely shine simultaneously as clearly and as focused as with Lisa Batiashvili. Her dynamics are extremely finely graded, and the tone of her violin is rich in colour and nuance,” was what Bayerischer Rundfunk said in its review. This season, the Georgian violinist, who is standing in for the indisposed Janine Jansen, presents Sibelius’ masterpiece with Berliner Philharmoniker, whose playful finale reminded the English pianist and composer Donald Tovey of a “polonaise for polar bears”; a nice alliteration, but it is based on the popular misconception that there are polar bears in Finland. (Supposedly this misconception arose at the 1900 Paris World Exhibition, when the Finnish pavilion had two ornamental bears on the roof as decoration. The sculptor Emil Wikström had delivered them at the last minute, and they had not yet been painted brown; the next day, the Paris newspapers were full of descriptions of the beautiful Finnish polar bears.)

Following the Sibelius concerto, whose prominent violin part belongs unmistakably to the Romantic concerto tradition, Paavo Järvi conducts Dmitri Shostakovich’s Sixth Symphony, a work which received rapturous applause even at its Leningrad premiere on 5 November 1939. At one of the subsequent performances, the audience was so enthusiastic that the finale was even repeated. It is no surprise that this Mahler-influenced work (whose music, like Till Eulenspiegel and Petrushka, repeatedly takes a menacing turn) was included immediately in Leopold Stokowski’s repertoire: “In each of his symphonies, Shostakovich proves himself to be a master who was constantly growing in creative imagination and musical self-confidence. He reaches new heights in his Symphony No. 6.”

 

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