Klaus Mäkelä conducts a richly varied programme filled with stark contrasts, ranging from Jimmy López’ Peruvian-inspired orchestra music to Béla Bartók’s tough urban jungle. Julian Rachlin is the soloist in Dmitri Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No .1.
Jimmy López (b. 1978) hails from the Peruvian capital of Lima, and studied composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and Berkeley University in California. Perú Negro from 2012 was a commission by the Peruvian conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya, who has recorded it with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra. This explosive work for orchestra is based on Afro-Peruvian folk music, reflecting its instruments, rhythms and melodies.
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975) wrote his Violin Concerto No. 1 in the years 1947–48, a time of tough censorship in the Soviet Union. In 1948 he was officially condemned for failing to write music perceived as serving the interests of state and people. Much of the music he wrote was banned, and the subsequent years proved an economic and emotional nightmare. His Violin Concerto No. 1 was put aside until Stalin’s death, and violinist David Oistrakh performed it to great acclaim in 1955, describing the melancholy first movement as “a suppression of feelings”.
When BBC Music Magazine asked 174 composers from all over the world to rank the greatest composers of our time, Finnish Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952) was placed top of the list by her contemporary colleagues. This ranking speaks volumes about the unique position she holds among composers writing today. Vista was written in 2019 and had its world premiere in May 2021. The work is a commission by the Oslo Philharmonic together with the Los Angeles, Helsinki and Berlin Philharmonic orchestras.
Béla Bartók (1881-1945) wrote music to the pantomime ballet The Miraculous Mandarin just after the First World War. The composer lived with his family east of Budapest in poor conditions, where they often lacked food, water and electricity.
The Miraculous Mandarin is a brutal depiction of urban life. It begins with a musical description of a “concrete jungle” and depicts robbery, violence and prostitution. The eponymous “Mandarin” is a wealthy Chinese who survives the most incredible attacks by a gang of assailants, but who must surrender in the end. The premiere in Cologne in 1926 was a scandal – the work was banned and was rarely performed in Bartók’s lifetime. The orchestra version will be performed in this concert, which still has the power to surprise with its original and impactful music.
(Translation from Norwegian: Sarah Osa)
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