The first piece of the evening will be by an Argentinean-born composer, Alberto Ginastera, performed by Budafok Dohnányi Orchestra. Ginastera is one of the most important South American composers of the 20th century. Born to a Catalan father and an Italian mother, he studied music in Buenos Aires and later he himself taught and trained some renowned composers. The suite to be performed this evening is Ginastera’s second ballet, commissioned by the American Ballet Caravan in 1941. The title of the work – Estancia – means vast estate, and the work itself was conceived as a 5-scene piece about rural life in Argentina. For various reasons, the ballet performance was not staged until 11 years after the work had been written, in 1952, but it was premièred as an orchestral work in 1943, after the composer had extracted a few dances from the work to create a suite version. Thus, the piece performed this evening consists of 4 movements, including a lively dance with Argentine folk music motifs and an emotional, lyrical movement.
Honegger wrote a total of three concertos, one of which is his Cello Concerto, written in 1929. This work is one of the most joyful and entertaining of the composer’s oeuvre, yet it is largely overlooked in concert halls. The work is characterised by its transparency and simplicity complete with jazz elements; and the composer’s respect for Beethoven and Bach is evident in the tools for music form, the traditional structure and the use of the counterpoint. The general problem of cello concertos is to achieve a balance between the solo instrument and the orchestra. Honegger brilliantly resolves this balance in a way that creates a dialogue rather than a debate between the two sides, and does not wrestle with larger philosophical issues as he does in other works. In today’s concert, the solo is played by the young Spanish cellist Luis Aracama Alonso, a graduate of the Reina Sofia School of Music in Madrid, who regularly improves his skills in master classes with great artists such as Márta Gulyás, Gautier Capuçon and Enrico Dindo. Hungarian audiences have already had the chance to meet him in this year’s Symphonic Discoveries series at Müpa Budapest.
The final piece of the evening is Rimsky-Korsakov‘s popular work Scheherazade. The composer wrote and premièred this work in 1888, which he called a symphonic suite. The work is inspired by a well-known collection of Arabic tales in which, night after night, Scheherazade keeps the Sultan’s attention and his heart captivated with a new story. Each of the four movements of Rimsky-Korsakov’s work is based on a story: the first is about Sindbad the Sailor, the second about the pranks of Prince Kalandar, the third about the love between the young prince and the young princess, and the fourth about the whirl of a Baghdad festival and a ship run aground on the stormy sea.