Dmitri Shostakovich, Symphony No. 7 in C Major, Op. 60, “Leningrad”
A pan-European talent pool, Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester is the legacy of a visionary artist, the great conductor Claudio Abbado. It is an idealistic project that ensures the future of Europe's cultural heritage by investing into the next generation. Uncompromising both in his humanistic vision and the musical standards he wanted to achieve, Abbado made this orchestra an elite institution from the very beginning, thus solidifying its international recognition and making it highly sought-after among concert soloists. Abbado’s worthy successor, Daniele Gatti is the last in the long line of GMJO’s great conductors (from Pierre Boulez and Iván Fischer to Mariss Jansons and David Afkham). Music director of Teatro dell'Opera di Roma and Orchestra Mozart in Bologna, Gatti was presented with the 2015 Italian music critics’ Premio “Franco Abbiati” and awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur from the French Republic.
The orchestra, Ambassador of UNICEF Austria and winner of the prestigious European Cultural Foundation Award, stands apart from all other youth orchestras also in terms of repertoire. Its programmes are never mainstream, they are always engaging and demanding, and they follow thoroughly planned dramaturgical concepts: GMJO will undoubtedly display great maturity in confronting Shostakovich’s musical testament to the casualties of World War II, a symphonic work perfectly suited for this extremely large ensemble.
Actually, I have nothing against calling the Seventh the Leningrad, but it’s not about Leningrad under siege. It’s about the Leningrad that Stalin destroyed, and that Hitler merely finished off.
One sensed a maturity in the musicianship as well as technique that belied the irony of ‘youth’ dealing with a programme obsessed with the end of life.