Shostakovich's piano concerto No. 2

Concert 16.5

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Shostakovich's piano concerto No. 2

Listen to two of Beethoven’s most beautiful symphonies and be captivated by Olga Kern's deft hands in Shostakovich's exuberant piano concerto.

"My Little Symphony in F". That is how Beethoven referred to his Eighth Symphony. This beautiful piece is a loving homage to music's classical period and Beethoven's early role models, Haydn and Mozart.

And yet, like his Fourth Symphony, this piece has been somewhat overlooked for the simple reason that they are not as revolutionary as his more famous symphonies. Beethoven's eighth is nonetheless a fantastic composition, full of joyful exuberance and unexpected twists. While both his fourth and eighth symphonies are quite traditional in their style, they still bear traces of the rhythms and harmonies that characterise Beethoven's very distinct style.

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975) was one of the foremost composers of the 20th century. In his homeland of Russia, Shostakovich was both threatened and praised by the Stalinist regime, which makes it easy to understand why his sentiments about the Russian government varied a great deal throughout his lifetime. But when he wrote his second piano concerto, Stalin was long dead and Shostakovich could compose freely. Shostakovitch wrote the unusually upbeat and melodious piece for his 19-year-old son, Maxim. It is said that he inserted small five-finger exercises into his music here and there because it was the only way he could get his son to practice them.

But these will surely pose no problem for skilful Russian pianist Olga Kern. She is a highly charismatic soloist who has captivated both audiences and critics around the world.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symfoni nr 8
Dmitri Sjostakovitj: Pianokonsert nr 2
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symfoni nr 4

Conductor: Rumon Gamba
Soloist: Oxana Shevchenko (piano)

Follow-up discussion: directly after the concert