RUSSIAN ARCHChostakovitch, Tchaïkovski
Duration: approx. 75 minutes + interval
Large format – with the Orchestre Symphonique de Mulhouse
After the success of the joint tour of the Orchestre des Pays de Savoie and the Orchestre Symphonique de Mulhouse there had to be another one. Here they come together for a programme that is a hundred percent Russian, with two brilliant composers and two works relating to a crucial stage in their lives.
Shostakovich’s symphonies – “public music”, extroverted works reflecting the torments of war or the difficulties of those close to him – seem to be at the opposite pole, compared to the intimate art of the string quartets. However, with his Ninth Symphony (1945) and Third String Quartet (1946) – the orchestra plays the chamber version (Chamber Symphony, op. 73a), in the “Nostalgia” programme – the relationship seems to be the other way round. In Symphony no. 9, written in the summer of 1945, Shostakovich resisted the pressure to glorify Stalin’s victory, producing a much lighter, brighter work, and he reserved his contrapuntal inspiration for the quartet, an impressive diatribe against vice and violence. It is no surprise that the Classical spirits of Haydn and Mozart accompanied that pivotal period, in which the composer was anxious to pay tribute to ordinary people rather than to the heroes of victory. Soviet critics censured the symphony for its “ideological weakness” and its failure to “reflect the true spirit of the people of the Soviet Union”. In 1948 it was banned.
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no. 6, “Pathétique” (the Russian title of the work means, rather, “passionate” or “emotional”), was written in 1893. It is a vindication of his powers as a composer. He described it in letters as “the best thing I ever composed or shall compose”. The work was to be his testament, since he died soon after having conducted the first performance. Framed by two slow movements, the discourse reveals the composer’s tormented soul, in a language that is absolutely controlled, with hypnotic power, developing a “charm” in the magical sense of the word.
Nicolas Chalvin and Patrick Davin, conductors
Orchestre des Pays de Savoie
Orchestre Symphonique de Mulhouse
Symphony no. 9 in E flat major, op. 70 (1945)
Piotr Ilyitch TCHAIKOVSKY
Symphony no. 6 in B minor, op. 74, “Pathétique” (1893)