Soloist: Eldbjørg Hemsing, violin
Dmitri Smirnov, Mozart Variations
Dmitri Shostakovich, Violin Concerto No 1 in A minor, Op. 77
Valentin Silvestrov, The Messenger, for strings and piano
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Symphony No 40 in G minor, K. 550
Russian composer Dmitri Smirnov, who lives in England, wrote the Mozart Variations in 1987, also staging the orchestral work as a ballet. He based the variations on a passage from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, which we will hear as the final work on the present programme. Smirnov drew the two themes and thirty-five contrasting variations into the contours of sonata form, the fundamental compositional form of Mozart’s time. The make-up of the orchestra is also Mozartian, but with some additional instruments, such as the bass clarinet and the contrabassoon.
Both Smirnov and Dmitri Shostakovich are among the Russian composers who experienced suppression from the Soviet Union’s conservatively oriented cultural policy. Shostakovich wrote his Violin Concerto in A minor during the time of Zhdanov’s censorship, and it was only premiered in 1955, seven years after its creation, by the celebrated violinist David Oistrakh, the work’s dedicatee. On this occasion, we will hear Shostakovich’s magnificent concerto in an interpretation by renowned Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing, who debuted with the Bergen Philharmonic at the age of eleven. Together with Olar Elts, the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra’s guest conductor for the present concert, Eldbjørg Hemsing enjoyed an excellent critical response to her CD with the Vienna Symphony in 2018, which features Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No 1. Estonian conductor Olar Elts is currently an artistic adviser to Finnish orchestra the Kymi Sinfonietta and the principal guest conductor of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. According to composer Valentin Silvestrov, the archaic yet contemporary sounds of his work The Messenger, for strings and piano are “as if a visitor from some other dimension in time came to us with a message”.