Saturday, March 23, 2013

Shostakovich, Symphony #11: The Year 1905

Tonight's performance at Strathmore Hall was quite a treat. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by guest conductor Dima Slobodeniouk (who was debuting with the BSO) played Shostakovich's Symphony #11, also known as The Year 1905.

The first part of the Concert (Rachmaninoff's The Rock followed by his Piano Concerto #4, with Macedonian pianist Simon Trpceski) was just a warm-up to the impressive second part. The audience barely applauded at the end of The Rock. Rachmaninoff's First Movement of his Piano Concerto #4 proved a little bit difficult for the pianist, but his interpretation of the Second Movement was full of emotion.

This young Macedonian pianist got the audience when he came back on stage for an unscheduled "encore", a small piece that he wrote at 7... A little waltz with a touch of Slavic soul.

But the heart of the concert was truly Shostakovich's Symphony. The First Movement built up slowly with the cellos, the altos and the violins, sustained softly by the harp and the percussion. The presence of the martial undertone throughout the symphony -thanks to the many percussion instruments and to the brass- kept the memory of the bloody events of the year 1905 alive, and is truly an homage to those who died on that fatal Sunday.

I guess that is why the audience, still under the shock of such a non conventional piece, -certainly not the typical classical piece the American public is used to-, was a little "late" in realizing the Symphony had ended.  It took a good 30 to 45 seconds before they started to clap.

Dima Slobodoniouk's debut at BSO will be remembered. And I hope he will be back next year with more surprises.

And for your pleasure, I am posting a YouTube link to that Symphony, played by the Netherlands Philarmonic Orchestra at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, on January 14, 2008. Directed by Jakov Kreizberg.

Shostakovich's Symphony #11, The Year 1905