Klaus Mäkelä conducts a programme rich in sound, in works by Claude Debussy, David Monrad Johansen, and Maurice Ravel. Daniel Lozakovich is the soloist in Camille Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No. 3.
Claude Debussy (1862–1918) composed the music for Jeux (“Games”) for Serge Diaghilev’s legendary Russian ballet troupe in Paris, where it was premiered in 1913. Only a few weeks later, the troupe presented the world premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, on an evening which proved to be one of the greatest cultural milestones and scandals of the 20th century.
Jeux, where the plot takes place on a tennis court, is a more quiet work which has ended up somewhat in the background. It was seldom played for a long time, but in later years many – artists and audiences alike – have grown curious about the multiple nuances and innovations in Debussy’s final completed orchestra work.
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921) wrote his Violin Concerto No. 3 for the famous Spanish violinist Pablo de Sarasate. Both Saint-Saëns and Sarasate lived in Paris, but the world premiere was in Hamburg in 1880. The violin concerto is full of virtuosic drama and dazzling sound, and it’s particularly apparent in the final movement that the composer was writing for a Spanish musician. The soloist is Swedish violinist Daniel Lozakovich, who career has grown internationally over the last few years.
When David Monrad Johansen (1888–1974) heard Debussy’s music “at close range”, in Paris in 1920, it was to make a clear mark on his own compositions. Monrad Johansen held Edvard Grieg as his great idol, but continued to develop his own palette throughout his career. When he composed the orchestra work Pan for Knut Hamsun’s 80th birthday in 1939, he drew inspiration from several of the author’s novels. This work proved to be his most popular one, and has featured on the Oslo Philharmonic’s programme regularly until today.
Maurice Ravel’s (1875–1937) Daphnis and Chloe was also a commission from Serge Diaghilev, and was performed for the first time in Paris in 1912. The love story of Daphnis and Chloe is taken from a Greek shepherd story, believed to be written around the year 100.
Many of the greatest artists of the time were involved in the production – among others the dancer Vaslav Nijinsky and the choreographer Michel Fokine. The preparations were riddled with conflict, and Ravel spent a whole year perfecting the final dance. The end result was a masterful orchestra work featuring magnificent orchestral colours the world had never heard equal to. Suite No. 2 corresponds to the final part of the ballet music.
(Translation from Norwegian: Sarah Osa)
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