St Petersburg, Concert Hall

Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra

III New Horizons festival

Second concert of the fourteenth subscription

Leoš Janáček. Suite for Strings
Alexander Raskatov. Bel Canto for Viola and Strings /Premiere in St Petersburg/
Alfred Schnittke. Minuet for Violin, Viola and Cello
George Enescu,. Concertstück for Viola and Orchestra
Jiří Benda. Grave for Viola and Strings
Béla Bartók. Divertissement for String Orchestra

Soloists: Stepan Yakovich (Violin), Yuri Bashmet (Viola), Alexei Naidenov (Cello)

Conductor: Yuri Bashmet

Leoš Janáček. Suite for String Orchestra (1877)
The Suite for String Orchestra is Janáček’s first surviving instrumental work. The twenty-three year-old composer wrote it for one of the concerts by the Brno Society of Music of which he had recently been appointed conductor. The young Janáček devoted much energy to transforming the Society into a serious concert organisation: thanks to his initiative and leadership, a series of works by great masters of the past and by contemporary composers was performed. It is possible that the composer had intended his Suite for one of the society’s “renaissance” soirées – Janáček’s initial idea had been some kind of stylisation of a baroque-era suite, and the six parts of the work were given the names of old dances. Later these names were dropped, although the Suite retained its noble restraint and refinement, typical of examples of ancient music.

Alexander Raskatov. Bel Canto for alto and strings (2008)
Alexander Raskatov (born 1953) is a graduate of the Moscow Conservatoire and one of the most interesting and popular Russian composers now living in the West. In 1998 he was awarded the prestigious Salzburg Easter Festival Prize for “Best Composition”, which was presented to him by Claudio Abbado. As a loyal and constant composer for the German publishing firm Peters, Raskatov works with renowned performers and the most prestigious musical ensembles. The composer’s music is incredibly rich in content and intense in symbols. In  Bel Canto (literally “beautiful singing”) for alto and strings, one of the composer’s most recent works which he dedicated to his outstanding classmate and friend Yuri Bashmet, Raskatov combined specific expressive features of two of his most loved genres – vocal and chamber ensemble.

Alfred Schnittke. Minuet for Violin, Viola and Cello (1994)
In 1994, when Schnittke turned sixty years of age, his close friend, the internationally acclaimed cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich decided to organise a festival in Moscow dedicated to the composer’s music. This was the first major festival of Schnittke’s music to take place in his native land. Other illustrious friends of the composer also took part in the festival – among them the violinist Gidon Kremer and the violist Yuri Bashmet. Specifically for this star trio, Schnittke wrote one of his best works – Concerto for Three (to be arranged by Rostropovich) . Despite the humoristic title and the abundance of witty “ingredients”, the music in the concerto is expressive, tense and not at all disposed to mirth. In the first three parts of the suite, the soloists perform separately, and even in the collective finale they continue to “insist on their own voice”, opposing one another until their ultimate confrontation is interrupted by the destructive cluster of the piano. Having embraced, the soloists disappear behind the curtain to the storm of applause in the auditorium, and then… they return to play the Minuet – a “shadowy” epilogue to this false trio. The ceremonial and aristocratic dance of a gallant age, its harmonies distorted, expresses this duplicity and illusory quality that typifies Schnittke’s music and forms a typical feature of this 20th century genius’ art.


George Enescu. Concert Piece for Viola and Orchestra (1906)
A wonderful musician and master of the Romanian school of composition whose first teacher was the self-taught gypsy violinist Chioru, he spent his childhood years in rural surroundings, performing from an early age at village celebrations. With his phenomenal memory, the boy greedily absorbed the melodies of folk-tunes, songs and dances. After graduating with distinction from the Viennese and Paris Conservatoires and having become an acclaimed master of his art, Enescu made Romanian folklore the basis of his entire professional career. The Concert Piece for Viola and Orchestra, dedicated to Thierry Laforge, was written by the composer for the Paris Conservatoire’s performing competition. It is a virtuoso embodiment of a scene from folk life and it includes elements of traditional musical genres: doinas – a lyrical folk song that is sad in character, the jovial briu male dance the and the batuta female dance.

Jan Jiří Benda. Grave for Viola and Strings
Jan Jiří Benda (1686-1757) was a Bohemian composer who emerged as the founding father of the longest dynasty that has ever existed in the history of music; members of the Benda family were highly praised by contemporaries, among them Johann Sebastian Bach and his sons and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Today’s representatives of this illustrious musical family include the renowned conductor, cellist and composer Christian Benda. Throughout the whole period of its existence, the Benda dynasty’s visiting card has been the lofty culture of performing on string instruments. Jan Jiří Benda and his sons worked in the orchestra of “Prussia’s Versailles” – the magnificent palace of Sanssouci – during the reign of Frederick the Great. Grave from Jan Jiří Benda’s Concerto for Viola and String Orchestra is a jewel of instrumental lyricism of the baroque era. Thanks to the expressive contrast of the “endless” melody of the viola, which evokes memories of the beautiful lines in old paintings covered by a patina, and the mournful chords of the orchestra, the piece became a popular work and acquired a life of its own on the concert stage.

Béla Bartók. Divertissement for String Orchestra (1939)
Bartók composed his Divertissement for String Orchestra following a commission from Paul Sacher – the brilliant young conductor of the Basel Chamber Orchestra and a philanthropist who during the course of his life was the impulse behind more than one hundred works by highly acclaimed 20th century composers. In as much as the concept of the orchestra headed by Sacher lay in the contrasting unity of classical works and contemporary music, he asked Bartók to compose “something in the spirit of the 18th century”. Bartók executed to perfection the requirements of his patron and created a masterpiece in miniature in which the music appears in baroque era forms, filled with daring and stunning audiences with its complex harmonies and unpredictable melodious passages.

Nadezhda Kulygina  


General Partner of the Orchestra
Sponsor of the Orchestra  
Partner of the Orchestra  

Age category 6+

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