Saturday 7 July, 7.30pm
Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington
This season’s Bohemian theme is continued with Janáček’s 1918 orchestral rhapsody, Taras Bulba, loosely inspired by a novella by Gogol about a Cossack war leader. Janáček’s dramatic score matches the intensity, if not the narrative, of Gogol’s tale of love, betrayal and the struggle for freedom.
The orchestra is delighted to welcome back pianist Jian Liu to perform Britten’s Piano Concerto. Written in 1938 as a vehicle for Britten’s own performance, the concerto’s sparkle and wit recall Britten’s debt to Shostakovich, with a hint of Mahler’s Wunderhorn lyricism. “Music for me is clarification; I try to clarify, to refine, to sensitise… My technique is to tear all the waste away; to achieve perfect clarity of expression, that is my aim.” —Benjamin Britten
Dvořák’s Sixth Symphony seems to open in midstream: life in full bloom. The main theme has a rocking, wave-like quality that underpins much of the first movement. Despite moments of drama, the dominant mood is a kind of gentle delight, with sweeping string melodies delicately ornamented by pairs of woodwinds. There’s a hint of Beethoven’s Ninth in the gentle and ruminative Adagio, decorated by fine woodwind and horn solos. Dvořák uses a striking folk dance rhythm, the Furiant, for the Scherzo, allying it to the world of his Slavonic Dances. He contrasts it with a most delicate trio filled with alluring woodwind solos. The finale is, like much of this symphony, an homage to Brahms, but flavoured with Dvořák’s characteristic sense of enthusiasm about life in general.