Wednesday 3 October 2012

Szymanowski and Brahms at The Barbican

On the evening of Saturday 22nd September 2012 I attended the London Symphony Orchestra concert at The Barbican in the City of London. With conductor Valery Gergiev and soloist Janine Jansen this was the opening concert of the LSO's 2012/13 season.

The programme was Symphony No.1 - Szymonowski, Violin Concerto No.1 - Szymanowski and Symphony No.1 - Brahms. This was part of an exciting series of concerts from the LSO celebrating the music of Polish composer Karol Szymanowski alongside the symphonies of Brahms. This was another wonderful night to be at The Barbican as the LSO gave us a performance to remember.

Szymanowski's First Symphony was composed in 1906/07 and is regarded as a flawed if valiant attempt to write on a larger orchestral scale. This piece has a lot of emotional intensity which interlinks full orchestral and chamber like passages. From 1916 Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No.1 is a piece cast in a single span which was strongly influenced by the poem May Night by Tadeusz Micinski.

Brahms said: "I shall never write a symphony. You can't imagine what it is like to have that giant (Beethoven) marching along behind one." In 1876 after a process that had begun some 20 years earlier Brahms Symphony No.1 was first performed. This piece contains the best of Brahms but was composed to sound unlike anything by Beethoven. His music has a rich sound owing to the dense orchestral texture, complex harmony and tight integration of musical motives.

I really enjoyed my latest visit to The Barbican as the LSO celebrated the great music of Szymanowski and Brahms. This was a brilliant idea to pair these two composer's music together. A dramatic and colourful performance from the LSO conducted by Valery Gergiev which included a splendid Szymanowski Violin Concerto No.1 with Janine Jansen.

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