Violin Concerto in D major
- Leonidas Kavakos – Violin
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
About the concert
Before the composer Jean Sibelius fell almost complete silent in the last 30 years of his life, he displayed a noticeable tendency towards compacting and condensing in terms of length in his late works. The Seventh Symphony, which premiered in 1924, consists of one single movement and lasts just over 20 minutes. Sibelius’s last completed orchestral composition, the tone poem ‘Tapiola’, performed in New York for the first time two years later, is even shorter, if only by a little. A prose poem preceding the work speaks of “Northland’s gloomy forests”, “wild dreams” and the “great god” of the forests. The title of the piece refers to that latter mythological figure from the Finnish-Karelian epic ‘Kalevala’. In his composition, marked by incessant thematic metamorphoses and drawn-out climaxes, Sibelius once again demonstrates his ability to create an enigmatic and at the same time suggestive atmosphere.
In the first symphony concert of the season – which is also DSO’s contribution to the Musikfest Berlin festival – Music Director Robin Ticciati prefaces the tone poem ‘Tapiola’ with Morton Feldman’s study ‘Coptic Light’ from 1986, which was also the last completed orchestral work of its composer. In addition to Coptic weaving, which served Feldman as an inspirational source, the title refers to what Sibelius had once said about his attempt to achieve in the orchestra an effect similar to that produced by a piano pedal. In the gradually appearing rhythmic and harmonic shifts of the soundscapes, the work, which fades away rather than ends, creates an almost trance-like effect.
At the centre of the programme, Igor Stravinsky’s only violin concerto, the premier of which the composer himself conducted in Berlin in 1931, mediates between the “chiaroscuro”, i.e. the light and shadow effects that Feldman spoke of, and the Nordic darkness in Sibelius’ work. The musical signature of the work, which is based on Baroque and Classical models, is a four-note chord that opens all four movements. In the third movement, Strainsky, known for his concise rhythms, creates an unsentimental yet haunting song. The soloist is Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos, who is celebrated not only for his unsurpassably effortless technique, but also for his stylistic flexibility.