Stormy scenes in Russian history abound in Glazunov’s lush and delirious depiction of a loved-up couple barricading themselves inside their castle over a windswept night. So detailed is the musical storytelling, you can actually hear thundering waves crash as the lovers remain blissfully unaware of the dangers outside. Sergei Taneyev’s ghostly cantata St John of Damascus is a deeply expressive choral adaptation, with music of rare beauty, at times bordering on the sublime. The atmosphere is so charged that, as its final moments slip into a dark and cleansing silence, you may feel the need to hold your breath. It is no exaggeration to say that Shostakovich’s choices as a composer were a matter of life or death. Just when he was completing his Fourth Symphony, Stalin expressed his displeasure with the direction the composer’s music was taking. One of his most daring and adventurous scores, drawing on inspiration from Mahler, Shostakovich realised that it could further endanger his already precarious situation, so he withdrew it at the last minute. When it was finally performed in 1961, the missing link in Shostakovich’s symphonic output turned out to be a major milestone.
Please note this concert is being livestreamed and some shots will include wide angle views of the audience.