›Céléphais‹ from ›Les Cités de Lovecraft‹
Violin Concerto No. 2
- Nicola Benedetti – Violin
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
About the concert
Like Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto, which can also be heard in this DSO season, Karol Szymanowski’s second contribution to the genre was composed in the 1930s as its composer’s last major orchestral work. In his late creative period, Szymanowski drew inspiration from the folk music of the Tatra Mountains, located in the Slovak-Polish border region. Thematic economy – the Concerto is dominated by a simple motif of thirds – and a large-scale symphonic concept complement each other in a fascinating way. The English violinist Nicola Benedetti, who plays the solo part in the work, won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition at the age of 16 with Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto as an important step in her international career.
In contrast to the tone poems by Richard Strauss, there are no sad heroes, kings or knights in the purely instrumental works of Claude Debussy. In ‘La mer’, too, people only appear as observers of the piece, which shimmers in a thousand colours. Debussy once said about nature, which he revered with almost religious fervour, “to feel to what exciting and sublime spectacles [it] invites us transient and disturbing travellers, that is what I call praying.” Perhaps Debussy gave the composition, which ends with a mighty rush, the generic name ‘Three Orchestral Sketches’, because he wanted to depict the fleeting manifestations of timeless (natural) phenomena. Debussy’s maritime panorama responds in this programme with Maurice Ravel’s ‘La valse’, a depiction of urbanity that has escalated to the point of catastrophe. Written in the context of the First World War, Ravel quotes the Austrian dance on which the composition is based in fragments and rhythmic allusions before the intoxicating final passage.
Stéphane Denève has repeatedly demonstrated his great expertise in the French repertoire with the DSO. With ‘Céléphais’, the first part of Guillaume Connesson’s trilogy about the visionary dream and nightmare worlds of the American author H. P. Lovecraft, the concert opens with a prime example of contemporary orchestral virtuosity.