Stravinsky’s great ballet has gone through a fascinating series of metamorphoses since first conceived as a concert piece, inspired by the immensely popular puppet plays of 19th century Russia. The score is one of his most brilliant achievements, bursting with the energy and inventiveness of youth. From the opening bar it positively dazzles with its colour and energy, often so gestural that even in a concert performance, the images of the dancers are vividly conjured up. The Chamber Symphony Op.110a is in fact a transcription for string orchestra by erstwhile BSO Principal Conductor, Rudolf Barshai, of the String Quartet No.8. Whilst visiting a still decimated Dresden in 1960, Shostakovich wrote it in just three days dedicating it to “victims of fascism and war”. It is a gripping portrayal of the brutality of conflict – jagged, dynamic rhythms in the central sections are contrasted by elegiac outer movements that never fail to move the senses. Mozart’s first fully mature piano concerto with its technical demands and depth of expression, is alone among his early concertos.

Works and composers

Shostakovich Chamber Symphony
Mozart Piano Concerto No.9 K271
Stravinsky Petrushka (1947)