Monday, January 31, 2011

ESO Presents the Music of Russian Masters

This weekend, you'll experience the powerful competition of ideas, emotion and fantasy in an all-Russian concert featuring a work whose composer never heard it performed.

Topping the bill is Modest Mussorgsky's A Night on Bald Mountain, a piece of music which died, arose and changed forms not unlike the witches whose myth inspired it. After the composer's death in 1881, the work was rearranged for concert performance by his friend and colleague Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, whose brilliant creative spirit haunts much of the Russian music from this period.

Another member of their fiercely nationalistic circle, the doctor and chemist Alexander Borodin, contributed the important Russian opera Prince Igor as well as instrumental music.  The second of his three symphonies evokes the gleaming, heroic side of Russian folk legend.

The place of enduring love in the Russian psyche is marked by Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, a ballet and musical love story colored by black magic. Unlike his contemporaries, Tchaikovsky leaned westward in his style and injected more pathos than patriotism into his music.  Ironically, he confessed no love in the writing of his best known work, the overture 1812 which commemorates Russia's defense against Napoleon in Moscow.

Opposing forces is a main theme in the life of Dmitri Shostakovich, who fell in and out of favor with the Soviets repeatedly during his fifty-year career. The unusually upbeat Piano Concerto No. 2 was written for his son's 19th birthday, in the years after Stalin's death when the composer was enjoying a period of "official rehabilitation."

For tickets to "Night on Bald Mountain" call the ESO Box Office (847-888-4000) or visit