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Johann Sebastian Bachbio:
Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C major, BWV 1066

Dmitri Shostakovichbio:
Sonata for Violin, Op. 134 (transcript by Mikhail Zinman and Andrei Pushkarev)


Arnold Schönbergbio:
Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), Op. 4




Other information

The event is about 2.5 hours long.

About the event

From Baroque to the second half of the 20th century in a single evening? The Budapest Festival Orchestra invites you on a musical journey through the ages with Concertinos! An essential figure of the ensemble, János Pilz, one of the winners of the 2011 Sándor Végh Competition, takes the lead in the series, which aims to present smaller-scale, more intimate works. This time, the programme opens with a lighter piece by Bach, the first orchestral suite, and then, with a leap of nearly two and a half centuries to Shostakovich’s somber, stunningly beautiful Sonata for Violin and Piano, transcribed for string orchestra and percussion. The solo is played by Daniel Bard, a passionate advocate of playing chamber music and one of the BFO’s concertmasters. The concert will close with Schönberg’s most popular work, a love story full of twists and turns.

In the German courts of the 18th century, French-style music was a passion. To entertain the nobility, the orchestral suite (or ouverture in French) was born: light, dance-like works, of which Bach wrote four. Of course, as usual, he has given a few twists to the very simple tradition, combining French stylistic features with those of the Italian concerto. The overture of the first suite is typically French with its solemn dotted rhythms, while the refrain-like ritornello form is Italian. The composer used traditional orchestration and harmonies but wrote unusually contrasting pairs of movements in succession. The work is as colorful, deceptive, and entertaining as Bach himself.

World-renowned violinist David Oistrakh received a Sonata for Violin and Piano from Shostakovich for his sixtieth birthday in 1968. This became one of the author’s most beautiful late works. The opening andante movement begins with a twelve-tone theme. Other themes in the somber music are either cynical or chilling. The heroic middle movement brings some relief, but here too the music soon becomes anxious, and the mood is not even broken by the light waltz. In the eerie slow finale, the violin introduces the theme, which then unfolds in thirteen variations. This time, instead of a piano solo, the violin is supported by a chamber orchestra.

“I had intended to follow the motifs of my text in your composition, but I soon forgot, I was so carried away by the music,” wrote Richard Dehmel in 1912. Schönberg’s String Sextet “Transfigured Night” (of which he also made a version for string orchestra) was based on Dehmel’s poem. The movement, which lasts just over half an hour, is, according to Schönberg, “restricted to a sketch of nature and the expression of human emotions”. In the story, on a moonlit evening walk, a woman confesses to her lover that she is carrying the child of a man she met before she met him, and whom she does not love. The man promises to love the child as his own. All of this is expressed in beautiful, sensitive, passionate music.

Did you know? Bach composed his orchestral suite between 1724 and 1746; Shostakovich’s violin sonata was first performed by David Oistrakh on May 3, 1969 in Moscow; Schönberg’s piece premiered in Vienna on March 18, 1902; the Festival Orchestra performed the orchestral suite most recently on February 5, 2006 (concertmaster: Eszter Lesták Bedő), the most recent performance of Transfigured Night was October 2, 2008 in Brussels (conductor: Iván Fischer); this will be the BFO’s first performance of Shostakovich’s work.

Contemporary events: the first edition of Francis II Rákóczi’s memoirs in French was published in The Hague in 1739 / the Italian composer Giuseppe Tartini composed his violin concerto in C major in 1740 / the English painter William Hogarth painted his work David Garrick as Richard III in 1745 / on January 16, 1969 in Prague, a 20-year old university student named Jan Palach poured gasoline over himself and lit himself on fire to protest the communist regime / on July 20, 1969, astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission landed on the Moon / the French philosopher and aesthete Gilles Deleuze published his work The Logic of Sense in 1969 / the American author Philip Roth published his novel Portnoy’s Complaint in 1969 / Prince Bob, an operetta by Jenő Huszka, premiered in Budapest on December 20, 1902 / the Polish painter and playwright Stanisław Wyspiański produced his Self-portrait in 1902 / The Wings of the Dove, a novel by the American writer Henry James, was published in 1902