11. 11. 2022, 7 p.m.

Reduta Theatre

Brno Contemporary Orchestra

conductor: Pavel Šnajdr

piano: Miroslav Beinhauer

soprano: Doubravka Součková

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Edison Denisov: Sun of the Incas

Leoš Janáček: Capriccio for Piano Left-Hand, Flute (piccolo), Two Trumpets, Three Trombones and Tenor Tuba, JW VII/12

Igor Stravinsky: Concerto for Piano and Brass Instruments

Sofija Asgatovna Gubajdulina: Concordanza


Sun of the Incas, a work for soprano and chamber orchestra based on the poem Tropical Sun by Gabriela Mistral (1964), is a six-part cantata that marks the beginning of the highly successful international career of the Soviet composer Edison Vasilievich Denisov (1929-1996). A year after its 1964 premiere in Leningrad, now known as St. Petersburg, under the baton of Gennady Rozhdestvensky, it was performed in Darmstadt, at Warsaw Autumn and in Paris. Denisov composed in predefined series which he didn´t follow strictly, so within this work the world of strict rationality meets a contentually and emotionally tense humanistic message expressing the need for humanity to return to nature and its myths, which the author felt could protect the world from impending doom during the escalating Cold War and the beginnings of the war in Vietnam at the time of composition. It is not a coincidence that Denisov chose the poem Tropical Sun from the poetry collection Tala from 1938, thanks to which its author Gabriela Mistral became the first Latin American winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. 

At the beginning of the composition Capriccio for Left-Hand Piano, Flute (piccolo), Two Trumpets, Three Trombones and Tenor Tuba was the request of a pianist and war invalid named Otakar Hollman for a piano composition. At first, Leoš Janáček responded sharply and indiscriminately, in typical Janáček style, to the challenge of composing a piece for a one-handed player: Childish – what do you want to play with one hand? It is hard to dance for one with only one leg. However, when he heard the pianist play, he said that he would think about it again. Although Hollmann did not hold out much hope for a result, in actual fact a really brilliant composition was taking shape within Janáček’s mind. In the autumn of 1926 he completed his Capriccio for Left-Hand Piano and Wind Instruments and told Hollmann in a letter from 11. 11. 1926: I wrote Capriccio. You know, it was like out of spite, childish, to write for one hand. Other reasons and causes, both material and internal, were needed. When all of them arrived and met – then a work was created. And so one of the most remarkable chamber works of the 20th century was created. Hollmann performed the premiere of Capriccio on 2. 3. 1928 in the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House in Prague.  

The Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments by Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) is one of the fundamental piano compositions of the 20th century. In 1920, Stravinsky moved from Switzerland to Paris, which was filled with the ideas of the neoclassical movement, which was fighting against the emotional disjointedness and systematic nature of Romanticism. In Paris, far from the Russian folk songs which initiated his first creative period, Stravinsky thought about a new conception for his work. In the Octet for Wind Instruments from 1921, and most notably in the Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments that was completed in 1924, he returned to classical music from the times of Händel and Bach. However, he transformed it into a proper and original language built on an architecturally masterful, clean-sounding structure, as if carved from a single piece of material without unnecessary embellishment and gloss. The composition had its premiere in Paris in 1924, with the author at the piano. In 1950 Stravinsky partially revised the instrumentation of the work.  

Sofia Asgatovna Gubaidulina (* 1931), composer of Russian-Tatar origin, was born on 24 October 1931 in Chistopol. She received her first musical education in Kazan, where she spent her childhood, and then studied composition at the Moscow Conservatory with N. Pejko, J. Shaporin and V. Shebalin. However, much more than the academic environment, her work was influenced by her self-study of New Music scores and recordings, contacts with Western European musicians, Moscow samizdat circles (where she was introduced by her second husband, Nikolai Bokov) and other similarly inclined “unofficial” artists from the former socialist bloc. Gubaidulina’s music soon drew the attention of like-minded composers, but her compositions were rarely heard on stage due to the repressive Soviet cultural policy of the time. A turning point was the concert given by conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky in 1982 in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, where Gubaidulina’s violin concerto Offertorium was performed with great success. Later, Sofia Gubaidulina gained an international reputation, helped by famous performers who tirelessly promoted her work (Rozhdestvensky, Rostropovich, Kremer, etc.) and by her emigration to Germany in 1992. She settled in a village near Hamburg, where she still lives today. Concordanza is one of her first works created on the basis of “binary oppositions”, which here are concordance (concordanza) and discordance (discordanza). The composition was commissioned in 1970 by Marek Kopelent, then artistic director of the ensemble Musica Viva Pragensis.

 

Viktor Pantůček, Jiří Zahrádka

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