Do you like Brahms? If so, you’ll enjoy this concert threefold, as you’ll hear a Brahms work and two works that, although written long after Brahms, in the 20th and 21st centuries, will stir the hearts of even the most committed fans of romanticism.
György Orbán’s Symphony No. 1, performed for the first time ever this evening, is a testimony to the composer’s thinking rooted in classical and romantic music. The very fact that he calls his work a symphony reflects his adherence to the classical tradition, as since the 20th century there have been fewer and fewer symphonies written. The musical structure of Orbán’s first symphony is even more simplified than his staple clear-cut musical articulation: the tonality of the piece is clear and the structure is classical. However, we can also recognize many gestures of the much talked about collective memory in the work, be it a dies irae melody or the turn of a Hungarian folk song. (Click here to read György Orbán’s thoughts on his work – in Hungarian.)
Shostakovich completed his Violin Concerto No. 1 in 1948 and dedicated it to the world-famous violinist David Oistrakh. For reasons of cultural policy, the work was not premièred until 1955 with Oistrakh as soloist. “As for the Violin Concerto…I am struck by the wonderful seriousness, the depth of creative thought and the truly symphonic mindset in it. There is nothing in the score of the Violin Concerto that is incidental, that is only for external effect, that is not justified by the internal logic of material development,” so wrote Oistrakh six months after the première, his words capturing the essence of the work very aptly. The piece is reminiscent of a symphony not only in its scope and complexity, but also in its four-movement structure. At the same time, the internal elaboration of the movements, the exciting polyphony and the orchestration of the work are also reminiscent of chamber music: the confrontation and ‘competition’ between the soloist and the orchestra unfolds not in the alternation of large blocks of the form, but often in the dialogue between one or two instruments and the soloist. The violin concerto solo at today’s concert will be played by Daniel Matejča, whom the audiences will know from the Virtuosos 2021 show. Despite his young age, he has won numerous international competitions (Telemann Competition, Concertino Prague Competition, etc.).
Our concert will conclude with Brahms‘ first orchestral work, Serenade No. 1. From 1857, Brahms was at the service of the Duchy of Detmold, famous for its flourishing musical life. During this period, Brahms also studied the legacy of the Viennese classicists, with a particular focus on Mozart and Haydn’s symphonies and divertimentos. This is the style revived by Serenade No. 1 in D major. Back in 1858, Brahms intended the piece as chamber music for nine string and wind instruments. It was also performed in this form at a concert in Detmold. The orchestral version was performed in Hannover in March 1860, conducted by Brahms’s friend, the world-famous Hungarian violinist József Joachim. The serenade, in six movements, bears the imprint not only of Haydn and Mozart, but also of Brahms’ more recent predecessors: Beethoven and Schubert. But beyond all this, it also displays several features that distinguish Brahms’ music from all others: particular melodic turns, orchestration and the heavy, complementary rhythms that are particularly characteristic of his works.