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Maxim Vengerov and the Pannon Philharmonic

Bartók Spring International Arts Weeks 2022

Antonín Dvořák: Karnevál nyitány, Op. 92
Sergei Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No 1 in D major
Béla Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra, Sz. 116, BB 123

Maxim Vengerov – violin

Conducted by: Kovács János

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Maxim Vengerov, the world-famous violinist and a long-time favourite of Hungarian audiences, will perform in Pécs and Miskolc as a guest of the Pannon Philharmonic. The Grammy Award-winning violinist, who has recorded numerous CDs, has a fantastic concert career and a passion for teaching, with masterclasses – often delivered online – attended by exceptionally large numbers of artists. He has also been very active as a conductor over the past decade, leading orchestras around the world, including the Toronto and Montreal Symphony Orchestras, the Munich Philharmonic and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 1997, and is an honorary member of prestigious academies such as the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College, Oxford. Along with Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, the programme also includes a violin concerto in A major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.


Bartók Spring International Arts Weeks 2022


If we wanted to find the essence of this concert's programme, it would be: "Full force, men!" Dvořák's sparkling, powerful and emotionally overpouring Carnival overture is also a perfect spring piece. Still, in this case, the masquerade is organised by nature into marvellous flower and colour arrangements. This will be followed by Prokofiev's Violin Concerto, which failed due to its conservative melodiousness in its time. Today's audience is happy to hear it, though, for the very same reason. Bartók's Concerto is the event's conclusion, written in the shadow of war and a fatal disease; yet it proclaims optimism and the victory of hope. Besides the programme, also the performers are magnificent. The soloist of the night is one of the most celebrated violinists of our day, Maxim Vengerov, who has taken to the stage of the Kodály Centre more than once. An iconic master of today's Hungarian classical music scene and a favourite with the audience and musicians, János Kovács conducts the concert. The Pannon Philharmonic, on their part, will go out of their way to please the Pécs-based music lovers.

Antonín Dvořák: Carnival Overture, Op. 92

The composition is the middle piece in a three-part cycle of concert overtures (Nature, Life and Love). The first (In Nature’s Realm, Op. 91) and the third (Othello, Op. 93) are performed less frequently, but Carnival has become a popular piece in concert halls. Brahms was fond of it, and called it “merry,” saying “music directors will be thankful to” the composer. Dvořák wrote the piece in 1891, during a particularly productive period. According to his description of the programme, it is dawn and a lonely wanderer arrives in a town where there is a carnival going on. The sound of the instruments is mixed with people’s cheers of joy, and the participants give expression to their happiness with songs and dances. The middle section (Andantino con moto) takes us back to the perspective of the pensive wanderer. It is pastoral music in the vein of a nocturne, with the English horn, flute, oboe, clarinet and violin taking solo roles, and the pentatonic “nature” theme of the overture, In Nature’s Realm, repeatedly heard among the swaying melodies. Next, the development commences, again in the atmosphere of the carnival. It is followed by the recapitulation, and then the composition is brought to a cheerful and noisy end by an explosively powerful coda.


Sergei Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, Op. 19

Prokofiev started to work on Violin Concerto No. 1 in 1915, but then put it aside for a while to finish the opera, The Player. The composition was completed in 1917 and had its premiere five years later in Paris. The Paris Opera Orchestra was conducted by Serge Koussevitzky, with Marcel Darrieux playing the solo. Violinist József Szigeti was present at the premiere, and was so impressed by the piece that he immediately decided to include it in his repertoire. The following year he performed it in Prague, then in a number of European cities and even in the United States. The work was not a success with the audience of the Paris premiere, mainly because the French public at the time was more interested in fancy curiosities and pieces in a crisp modern style, while Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto appeared almost romantic to them. It was no accident that French composer Georges Auric considered it to be in the style of Mendelssohn. The work was first performed in Russia in a violin and piano version, with Vladimir Horowitz providing the accompaniment, and a nineteen-year-old Nathan Milstein playing the solo. “When you have a pianist like that,” said the latter, “you don’t need an orchestra.” 


Béla Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra, Sz. 116, BB 123

Bartók wrote a short introduction for the premiere of his Concerto for Orchestra, which he composed on commission from Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra: “The general mood of the work represents, apart from the jesting second movement, a gradual transition from the sternness of the first movement and the lugubrious death-song of the third to the life-assertion of the last one. The title of this symphony-like orchestral work is explained by its tendency to treat the single instruments or instrument groups in a ‘concertant’ or soloistic manner. The ‘virtuoso’ treatment appears, for instance, in the fugato sections of the development of the first movement (brass instruments), or in the ‘perpetuum mobile’-like passage of the principal theme in the last movement (strings), and, especially, in the second movement, in which pairs of instruments consecutively appear with brilliant passages.” Unusually for Bartók, the composition contains a wide variety of quotations and quotation-like material. For example, the astonishingly powerful lament of the Elegia is introduced by a characteristic soundscape from Bluebeard’s Castle (The pool of tears). The title of the Intermezzo interrotto refers to a prelude by Debussy, which Bartók had held in his repertoire (La sérénade interrompue). “Szép vagy, gyönyörű vagy, Magyarország” is an operetta hit song, which becomes sublime in Bartók’s treatment. The coarse, aggressive and distorted tune that interrupts the serenade scene is also an operetta melody, though Bartók probably knew it not in its original form (from The Merry Widow by Franz Lehár), but as it was quoted by Shostakovich in Symphony VII.

World-famous ensembles, brilliant soloists, special performances, a real festival atmosphere across the country: Bartók Spring International Arts Weeks

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organised by MÜPA.



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