Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Britten and Russia: Snape Maltings Britten Weekend 2019

Rostropovich, Oistrakh, Britten and Shostakovich during the festival of British music in Moscow. March 1963 (Photo  © 2009 Irina Antonovna Shostakovich)
Rostropovich, Oistrakh, Britten and Shostakovich during the festival of British music in Moscow. March 1963
(Photo  © 2009 Irina Antonovna Shostakovich)
Each year, Snape Maltings holds a Britten Weekend which focuses on a particular aspect of Britten's life and career. This year the weekend (18 -20 October 2019) looks at Britten's relationship with Russia, notably his friendship with three Russian musical giants, the composer Dmitri Shostakovich and the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and his wife, the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya. Politics prevent Britten's planned opera for Vishnevskaya, Anna Karenina, from coming about but his friendships with the three would have far reaching effects on Britten's musical output. For Vishnevskaya he would write the cycle of Pushkin settings, The Poet's Echo and for Rostropovich he would write the Cello Suites and the Cello Symphony. Britten dedicated The Prodigal Son to Shostakovich, whilst Shostakovich dedicated his Symphony No. 14 to Britten, a work which, with its settings of poems dealing with the theme of death, is considered a response to Britten's War Requiem (the soprano part of which was written for Vishnevskaya, but politics prevented her from taking part in the premiere though she was able to record the work with the composer).

At Snape, soprano Julia Sitkovetsky, cellist Alban Gerhardt and pianist Roger Vignoles will be performing Britten's The Poet's Echo, Shostakovich's Hebrew Songs, cellos sonatas by Briten and by Shostakovich, Britten's Cello Suites, Prokofiev's Five Poems of Anna Akhmatova and Rachmaninov  songs. Gerhardt is the soloist in Britten's Cello Symphony with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, condutor Jac van Steen, with Shostakovich's Symphony No 10.

The weekend concludes with a re-creation of the 1960 London concert at which Britten was first introduced to Rostropovich and Shostakovich - van Steen and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales are joined by cellist Laura van der Heijden for Britten's A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Shostakovich's Cello Concerto and Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 3.

Full details from the Snape Maltings website.

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