St Petersburg, Concert Hall

Stravinsky. Shchedrin

Igor Stravinsky. Jeu de cartes
Ballet in three hands
Rodion Shchedrin. Piano Concerto No. 5
Igor Stravinsky. Oedipus Rex
opera-oratorio (сoncert performance)
Speaker: Alexei Emelianiov, Oedipus: Alexander Timchenko, Greon: Ilya Bannik, Jocasta: Nadezhda Serdyuk, Tiresias: Mikhail Petrenko

Chorus and Symphony Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre
Principal Chorus Master: Andrei Petrenko
Symphony Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre

Matsuev, winner of the 1998 Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, has much in common with Vladimir Horowitz: the flaring virtuosity, the range of sonority going from a golden whisper to a mighty roar. But Matsuev seems to command equal reserves of intelligent musicianship and fiery showmanship.
Chicago Tribune


His power: limitless. His octave and scale technique: without comparison. His touch: highly differentiated. Nobody plays quicker, bolder, more transparent. Betimes one has the impression; a five-armed juggler is juggling five barbells of 50 kilo each, as though they were paper balls. Similarly the young Horowitz must have sounded.
Westdeutsche Zeitung


Igor Stravinsky  

“I date the start of work on Oedipus Rex to September 1925, but at least five years before that I felt the need to compose a large-scale dramatic work. Returning at the time from Venice to Nice in September, I stopped in Genoa to refresh my memories of the town, where in 1911 I celebrated my fifth wedding anniversary. It was here in a kiosk selling books that I found a volume about the life of Francis of Assisi, which I bought and read that very evening. It is due to this reading that I owe the birth of the idea, albeit in ill-defined forms, that had often appeared to me ever since I had become déraciné. The idea was that the text used in the music could acquire monumental status by means, so to speak, of reverse translation, from the secular to the sacred...
“The decision to create a work after the tragedy by Sophocles followed soon after my return to Nice, and the choice was made. I needed a subject that was all-human or, at the very least, well known enough so as not to need a detailed interpretation. I wished to leave the piece as such in the background, thinking that in this way I could extract its dramatic essence and liberate myself in order to be more focussed on the purely musical dramatisation...
“My second idea was that the actors should be contoured and stand above – each of them raised up behind the chorus. But “actors” is the wrong word. No-one here is “acting”, the only one who moves at all is the narrator, and then only to underline his own unique status from that of the other characters on stage. Oedipus Rex may or may not be considered as an opera because of its musical content, but it is certainly not operatic in terms of movement.”
Igor Stravinsky


Schoenberg wrote of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex that “Here everything is inside out: an unusual piece of theatre, an unusual production, an unusual denouement, unusual vocal writing, an unusual vertical, unusual counterpoint and unusual instrumentation.” These words of the musician – the founder of the most radical school of composition of its time – encompassed a widely held view of the work. Things truly were not as they appeared to be. Stravinsky, for whom turning everything upside down became his principal creative method, created an opus where the “upside down” was the idea of an operatic work in itself. For centuries, composers – Stravinsky’s predecessors – had despaired at the laws of the genre, and developed styles and forms that allowed opera to emerge from the “mould” of an ancient tragedy (as its inventors Peri and Caccini had envisioned it in the late 16th century) and become a genuine musical drama. Stravinsky takes the reverse path: the broadly accepted attributes of drama (meaning the protagonists, their relationships and the subject) serve as a means of playing with the forms, styles and laws themselves of the genre. For his material, he selected 17th century opera (largely Handel) and Verdi.
Oedipus Rex is “an opera about opera”, “a play about a play”, but that’s not where it ends. Returning to ancient tragedy, Stravinsky returns to the fundamental problem of the thinkers of the ancient world – the problem of Fate. And thanks to this ambiguous viewpoint, it towers mightily in all its glory.
Yekaterina Yusupova

Родион Щедрин  

“I wrote the Fifth Piano Concerto with ease, effortlessly. I only sweated a bit from the second cadence in the finale. If the degree of virtuoso effectiveness is insufficient, then the entire work can ‘sink’. I knew that well.
“Olli Mustonen performed the concerto and this head-spinning cadence brilliantly. And so the baton was passed to Denis Matsuev, and there followed a storm of applause. It would appear that the concerto can show the pianist in a good light. If… it is played well, of course.”
Rodion Shchedrin

Age category 6+

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