›Dances from Galánta‹
›Totentanz‹ (Dance of the Dead) for piano and orchestra
Symphony No. 5 in D minor
- Martin Helmchen – Piano
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
About the concert
A strong local reference characterises Zoltán Kodály’s ‘Dances from Galánta’. During the Hungarian composer’s childhood, his father worked for seven years as a railway employee in the town lending its name to the title, which lies on the route between Budapest and Bratislava. In his youth, Kodály heard wandering bands playing music in the style of the Verbunkos here. The term, derived from the German word “Werben”, meaning to recruit, originally referred to a dance used to recruit soldiers. However, this meaning was abandoned in musical folklore, which Kodály merged in the composition with his very own style.
Many musicians such as Berlioz, Rachmaninoff and Saint-Saëns were fascinated by the “Dies irae” sequence of notes handed down from the Middle Ages. Franz Liszt used this motif as the basis for his ‘Totentanz’ (‘Dance of the Dead’) for piano and orchestra. In the course of the variations following after, the theme, hammered out by the solo instrument in an almost percussive manner at the beginning, becomes the subject of a canon and a passage to which the horns lend the atmosphere of a hunting scene. Martin Helmchen, who received a Gramophone Award in 2020 with the DSO for the joint recording of Beethoven’s Second and Fifth Piano Concertos, takes on the eminently virtuoso solo part.
The opera ‘Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk’ by Dmitri Shostakovich, which was acclaimed at its first performances and from which an orchestral suite is played at the end of the concert, was banned in 1936, presumably on Stalin’s personal instructions. The music to the plot about patriarchal oppression, violent revenge and erotic addiction reflects the archaic brutality of the Stalin era in a perhaps unique way.
19.10 Uhr Einführung mit Habakuk Traber