Greatly influenced by Shostakovich, Kara Karayev forged his own distinctive use of native Azerbaijani folk music. The ballet The Seven Beauties brims with an exotic array of appealing rhythms and melodies, a trait that infuses the music of his student Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, best known for her works that combine the musical tradition of the Azerbaijani muğam and 20th century Western compositional technique. Shostakovich’s Symphony No.12 is the composer’s stunning attempt to reflect the life of Lenin. The project dogged Shostakovich: he had always intended to complete a musical tribute to Lenin, but the symphony didn’t arrive until 1961, after several failed attempts. It is an effortlessly dramatic affair, churning with violence, struggle and eventual triumph.
In a unique way, Ali-Zadeh succeeds in fusing the musical traditions of her home country with modern Western compositional techniques. Her music, so rich in contrasts, reflects lightness and vehemence, playful light-heartedness and brooding thoughts, delicate transparency and strong colours, quiet simplicity and turbulent virtuosity as well as meditation and ecstasy. So, on the one hand, she reflects the religious and cultural rift between East and West and national traditions, while on the other hand she translates her own personal tensions into music, tensions that have arisen through the course of her life.
Make the most of your concert by getting to know the music in more depth with our informative video about the pieces being performed.