St Petersburg, Concert Hall

Concert by the Mariinsky Youth Orchestra

Conductor: Igor Gruppman

Johann Sebastian Bach
Brandenburg Concerto No 4 in G Major, BWV 1049

Dmitry Shostakovich
Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a (String Quartet No 8 in C Minor, arranged by Rudolf Barshai)

Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No 4 in B Flat Major, Op. 60

The Mariinsky Youth Philharmonic was founded in 1999 on the initiative of Valery Gergiev with the aim of training the next generation of theatre musicians and perfecting their performing skills. From that day to this, the orchestra has seen a constant flow of new young musicians. Since its inception, the orchestra has been conducted by such maestri as Gianandrea Noseda, Algirdas Paulavičius and Valery Gergiev himself, thus ensuring the continuity of traditions and involving young performers in the established routine of theatre life. The orchestra has also been conducted by Vladimir Feltsman, François Xavier-Roth, Kazuhiko Komatsu, Daniel Smith and young conductors from Russia, the USA, Greece and China who trained under Ilya Musin.
The orchestra made its first independent appearance in 1999 at the Stars of the White Nights festival when it featured in a performance of the opera Le nozze di Figaro. That same year saw the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra undertake its first tour to cities in Italy. The ensemble went on to perform in Finland, Germany and Japan.
The 2013–2014 season, thanks to the opening of the Mariinsky II and the need to provide concert programmes at all three of the theatre’s venues, the orchestra now has increased opportunities to present the public with its own unique programmes.
In December 2013 the orchestra was involved in a series of performances of The Nutcracker, while in March and April it presented several symphony music concerts at the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre.

On 24 March 1721 Johann Sebastian Bach sent Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg, the scores of six concerti “for various instruments.” The Margrave, whom Bach had met in 1719 in Berlin, was a passionate music lover who collected the scores of more than two hundred concerti by various composers in addition to being a strong proponent of Antonio Vivaldi. Bach’s Brandenburg concerti were based on a model created by Vivaldi (almost all are in three movements and feature wind instruments), but each of them is highly original. No two are alike, each is unique, and together they comprise a veritable encyclopaedia of Baroque music.
The unique nature of Concerto No 4 for Violin, Two Flutes, Strings and Basso continuo lies in the fact that here once and once only a very rare type of flute is used – not the disassembled flute and not the end-blown flute but the echo flute. These are so rare that even authentic performers today use them but very seldom. The second movement of the concerto is based on the effect of an echo, while the great polyphonist of all time and peoples wrote the finale in the form of a fugue.

Shostakovich’s Eighth Quartet enjoys a popularity rare for a work that is so academic in terms of genre. The reason is the programme, which Shostakovich exhaustively expounded in a letter to Isaak Glikman, telling his friend of his arrival in July 1960 at a resort in Saxon Switzerland near Dresden: “I watched materials of the film Five Days, Five Nights directed by Lev Arnshtam. I settled in very well to create the right artistic surroundings. The artistic conditions justified themselves: I composed my Eighth Quartet there. However much I tried to execute my tasks in rough for the cinematic film, I have as yet been unable to do so. And instead of that I wrote an ideologically empty quartet that no-one needed. I considered that if I ever die then it is extremely unlikely anyone would write a work dedicated to my memory. And so I decided to write one myself.”
Shostakovich wrote this musical “auto-epitaph” literally a few days after he had been unable to avoid joining the CPSU (although he had refused to join the party several times, it having destroyed the lives of so many people). In the music, the programme is expressed just as clearly. The quartet opens with a monogram there (D-Es-C-H), which runs through all five parts, in places even becoming importunate. The composer’s self-portrait is completed using themes from his First, Eighth and Tenth Symphonies, the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, his Piano Trio and Cello Concerto. The themes come with “hints” of Wagner’s Trauermarsch and Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony as well as the revolutionary songTormented by Grievous Bondage. Officially, the quartet is dedicated to the memory of victims of fascism and war. There are different versions of the Eighth Quartet for various performing ensembles. Rudolf Barshai’s orchestration was given the title Chamber Symphony.
Anna Bulycheva

Peace and freedom – these are the greatest blessings!
Ludwig van Beethoven

Romain Rolland wrote of the Fourth Symphony in B Flat Major (1806), written at a happy period in Beethoven’s life, that it flowed “with one spirit, without any provisional sketches”. God knows if that is in fact the case, quite simply there are no remaining traces of Beethoven’s work on the symphony, but it is doubtless one of the composer’s most joyful and light compositions.
But Beethoven would not have been Beethoven if the shadow of his deep contemplations had not fallen across the happiest pages. The slow introduction to the Fourth Symphony immerses us in a mysterious atmosphere of expectation; not yet knowing what is born from the shadowy silence, we are filled with light presentiments. And they do not deceive us: several bright bursts of the orchestra, beaming with sunlight – and in the music a joyful gusto reigns. The inspired Adagio is a hymn to beauty and harmony in nature, an idyll that can only be compared with the closest pages of the Sixth Symphony, Pastorale. The “muscular” minuet lies yet farther from its Haydn and Mozart predecessors than in the First Symphony; this is, of course, Beethoven’s scherzo dressed in the clothes of the previous century. And the impetuous, sparkling finale is full of boiling energy and strong conviction.
The first performance of the Fourth Symphony took place under the composer’s baton in March 1807 in Vienna in the home of Beethoven’s noble friend Prince Lobkowitz it met with a gracious rain of applause from the select public. There is much in the Fourth – first and foremost the slow introduction to the symphony, along with the romantic Adagio – that served as a prototype for the subsequent generation of composers. Mendelssohn, who considered the symphony a bible of musical romanticism, included it in the programme of his first appearance as a conductor at Leipzig’s Gewandhaus.
Iosif Raiskin

Age category 6+

Any use or copying of site materials, design elements or layout is forbidden without the permission of the rightholder.