RNCM Symphony Orchestra
at The Bridgewater Hall
Thursday 29 June 7.30pm
The Bridgewater Hall
Modest Mussorgsky (arr Rimsky-Korsakov) Prelude: Dawn over the Moscow River; Dance of the Persian Maidens from Khovanshchina
Sergei Prokofiev Violin Concerto No 1 in D major Op 19
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Symphony No 6 in B minor Op 74 ‘Pathétique’
Juanjo Mena, Manoj Kamps conductors
Erkki Louko violin
For our annual end of year RNCM Symphony Orchestra concert we return to The Bridgewater Hall for an evening of high drama and emotion under the baton of Juanjo Mena. In a series of letters, Tchaikovsky described his Sixth Symphony as ‘the best thing I ever composed or shall compose.’ Just three weeks after he conducted the world première, the composer was dead, and debate has raged ever since about how events unfolded and the meaning of this monumental piece.
Certainly the most controversial of his works, with the Sixth, Tchaikovsky introduced a radically new concept of the symphonic journey and set the stage for a new century of bleak requiems, no longer following Beethoven’s model of ‘light over darkness’.
However it is not a musical suicide note, a piece written by a composer who was dying or the product of a musician who was terminally depressed about his compositional powers or personal life. It is a vindication of Tchaikovsky’s powers as a composer. It is about death itself – the fact that we are made of flesh and blood and that we will all die – and its final image is of musical, emotional and physical collapse. Of all of his works, this symphony spans both extremes of the emotional spectrum to the greatest extent. A graceful dance is followed by a sombre mood, there is pathos but also an odd flash of frivolity. Its distorted references to fanfares, waltzes and marches suggest a collection of deathbed memories and thus it lays bare a devastating psychological drama as a life comes to an end.
Alongside the contributions by Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky, tonight’s programme is completed by Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto, performed by one of our Concerto Competition winners, Erkki Louko.