Friday 26 January 2018

Toradze plays Shostakovich

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra

Time 7:30pm
National Concert Hall Dublin

Tickets: from €15

  • Daniele Rustioni
  • Alexander Toradze 
  • Petrassi
    Ritratto di Don Quixote (Suite) / 22’
  • Shostakovich
    Piano Concerto No. 2 in F / 20’
  • Tchaikovsky
    Symphony No. 4 in F minor / 44’

SOUNDINGS 6.30pm Conductor Daniele Rustioni and pianist Alexander Toradze in conversation

A modern Italian master brilliantly conjures a legendary figure from literature and two Russian giants create a birthday present of bubbling high spirits and summon fate in a symphony teeming with anguish and romance. Daniele Rustioni, voted Best Newcomer of the Year at the 2013 International Opera Awards, makes his debut conducting the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra with Alexander Toradze – ‘a pianist of unconventional intelligence, range and creativity’ (The Arts Desk) – as soloist.

Goffredo Petrassi was one of Italy’s leading composers in the second half of the last century. His colourful, characterful suite Ritratto di Don Chisicotte (‘Portrait of Don Quixote’) was composed in 1947 from his early ballet setting of Cervantes’ iconic knight-adventurer. Structured as four dances, each depicting one of Quixote’s vainglorious adventures, and punctuated by three intermezzos representing Quixote’s companion and page Sancho Panza, love interest Dulcinea and a dialogue between the two, the orchestral writing is laced with telling irony, faux bravura and finely etched poignancy.

Shostakovich’s Second Piano Concerto is a free-wheeling affair in which cascading piano and bustling orchestra seem to pirouette around each other with gleeful abandon. His own assessment of it as a work with ‘no redeeming artistic merits’ should be taken as a tongue-in-cheek riposte to expected criticism from Soviet authorities’ disapproving of the composer indulging in writing it as a 19th birthday present for his son Maxim (himself now a prominent pianist and conductor). At its heart is a blissful passage of wistful pianistic poetry supported by a warm and tender orchestral accompaniment.

Although it was initially met with a lukewarm reception, Tchaikovsky considered his Fourth Symphony one of his best creations. Composed at a time when he attempted to disguise his sexuality by forcing himself into a disastrous and short-lived marriage – an act that subsequently prompted him to attempt suicide. He later claimed it was ‘an imitation of Beethoven’s Fifth [Symphony]; i.e., I imitated not the musical ideas but the fundamental concept’. That concept was the notion of fate, ‘that fateful force which prevents the impulse to happiness from entirely achieving its goal’. If Tchaikovsky’s personal response was ‘to surrender to it, and to languish fruitlessly’, his music suggests a greater, more vital resistance in its robust, often tortured, questing and achingly romantic nature. Few works can boast the second movement’s swooning, achingly beautiful melody that lights up the darkness from within with irresistible fervour.