Venue Details: Lighthouse
- Britten : Canadian Carnival
- Shostakovich : Violin Concerto No.1
- Prokofiev : Symphony No.7
In December 1939, Britten composed the light-hearted Canadian Carnival as a souvenir of his visit to Toronto. It is no mere orchestral arrangement of folk melodies. Instead, Britten treats the appropriated tunes quite inventively. A hoedown is enlivened by surprising harmonies and rhythmic hiccups, the waltz that forms a relaxed interlude keeps falling out of step with its accompaniment, and the familiar song “Alouette” is subject to raucous variation.
Shostakovich likened the First Violin Concerto to “a symphony for solo violin and orchestra” and, with its four-movement structure, gravity of expression and fully developed musical argument, it bears little resemblance to the traditional virtuoso concerto. There is a brooding opening movement, rousing scherzo and whirling finale but the expressive heart of the concerto lies in its third movement, the darkly hued and deeply emotional passacaglia, richly imbued with philosophic meditation and sad lyricism.
Prokofiev wrote his Seventh Symphony after returning to Russia from the West in 1933. It is richly lyrical and immediately ingratiating, the style deemed appropriate by the government to inspire the Soviet masses. “It is the duty of the composer to serve his fellow men, to beautify human life and show the way to a radiant future,” he wrote in his 1946 autobiography. This Symphony not only made those words manifest (the andante is one of the most effusively melodious and unabashedly sentimental pieces that Prokofiev ever created), but also showed that he was able to create music of surpassing quality under the tightest ideological strictures.
To find out more about Prokofiev's Seventh, you can Meet the Music
Pre-Concert Talk: 6.20 - 6.50pm
Free to all ticket-holders. Find out more here.