This concert takes you on an exhilarating journey back to the white hot musical scene of the first decades of the 20th century—an era of perhaps unparalleled musical explorations which far surpass the stereotypical image we have formed in retrospect of modernism in music.
Although American art music had emerged in the shadow of developments in Europe, the early 20th century bore witness to the emergence of a necessary differentiation. Charles Ives
(1874-1954) is one of the most outstanding figures in 20th-century music. Handling his musical material with absolute freedom, Ives displayed a complete lack of respect for both the dictates of classicism and the dogmas of the European avant-garde. The composer’s aesthetic was intimately related to the philosophy of transcendental idealism (Emerson, Thoreau et al.), and virulently rejected the standardization of the individual through the institutions of society and the Church. Faced with the mystery of Creation, Ives concludes that an Unanswered Question is to be preferred over a simplistic answer.
(1906-1975), a central figure in 20th-century music and a virtuoso pianist, wrote some of his finest works—for example, his 24 Preludes, Opus 34 and 24 Preludes and Fugues, Opus 87—for piano. His first piano concerto, Opus 35, which will feature in this concert, was written in a happy period in his life when, a much-loved Leningrad composer with a number of successes to his name, the shadow of his future disgrace at the hands of the Stalin regime had still to darken his horizons. The young composer, an avid reader of Russian authors like Gogol, was naturally inclined towards the grotesque, satire and parody, all of which are very much in evidence in this concerto for piano. Its centrifugal writing, contrasting musical styles and breaking down of the boundaries between the serious and the ironic are sure to sweep the listener up into its sound world.
Another emblematic figure of the previous century, Kurt Weill
(1900–1950) is better known for his music-theatre work, and for his stormy but fruitful collaboration with Berthold Brecht, than he is for his symphonic works. His uncompromising anti-authoritarian stance, intense public presence and Jewish roots made him an obvious target when the Nazis came to power in 1933. One of the few personal effects he took with him when he quit Berlin for Paris and a life in exile in March of the same year were the first drafts of his Second Symphony. The work has all the hallmarks of Weill’s music: a polystylistic musical idiom encompassing numerous internal contrasts, it was destined to be his last purely orchestral composition.
Orchestra conductor: Miltos Logiadis
The Unanswered Question (1906 – revised 1930-35) 8΄
Co-conductor: Phaedra Giannelou
Piano Concerto No. 1, op. 35 (1933) 21΄
Soloist: Vassilis Varvaresos
Sokratis Anthis: trumpet
Symphony No. 2 (1934) 28΄