Friday 26 October

‘Leningrad’ Symphony

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra

Time 7:30pm
National Concert Hall Dublin

Tickets: from €15 more info

  • Stanislav Kochanovsky
  • Richard Harwood
  • Presented by Michael Lee, RTÉ lyric fm


    Colas Breugnon Overture / 5’


    Cello Concerto No. 1 / 22’


    Symphony No. 7, ‘Leningrad’

Sometimes music is a way of avoiding death. In post-war Soviet-era Russia composing could get you killed. An evening dedicated to Dmitry K. and Dmitri S offers two composers with very different solutions to avoiding the threat of their Soviet masters.

After the shock of being publicly named and shamed and fearing the consequences (you really don’t want to know) Dmitry Kabalevsky chose the line of least resistance, writing music filled with gorgeous melodies. His sparkling Colas Breugnon Overture, a sprightly portrait of a people’s champion from history (insert your own nominee here) bristles with buoyant, burlesque fantasy – a perfect diversion for an October evening.

Kabalevsky’s First Cello Concerto blends the heart-on-sleeve emotion of Elgar and lyrical refinement of Vaughan Williams with the dark, melancholic beauty of the Russian soul. Which is another way of saying it has wonderful tunes. (Handkerchiefs at the ready in the middle movement. That’s all we’re saying.)

Dmitri Shostakovich was so often in and out of Soviet approval that most nights he went to bed wondering if he’d be alive the next. His Seventh Symphony – think of it as a film without pictures – is an explosion in music, loud with the sound of battle and alive with the heroics and courage of fortress Leningrad, a city that survived an unspeakable Nazi onslaught during the Second World War only to endure Stalin’s murderous regime after it.