October 8, 19:30

musicAeterna concert: Shostakovich, Verdi


Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901)
Overture to the opera The Power of Fate (1862/1869)

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975)
Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47 (1937)
Allegro non troppo

The musicAeterna Orchestra
Conductor Teodor Currentzis


Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 became the watershed between the composer’s early and mature styles, the boundary between his youthful maximalism, gushing eccentricity and experiments, and the tragic symphonism of the maestro with his focus on ‘the last questions of existence’. The new simplicity of the language of the Symphony No. 5, for which the composer was so praised in the Soviet music-critical press, turned out to be deceptive. This work begins the story of Shostakovich’s secret language, which encodes messages in musical thematism and its development that cannot be unambiguously interpreted, but speak to each listener about what brings pain in their own heart. In the Symphony No. 5 there are references to Mahler and to Habanera from Bizet’s opera Carmen (perhaps this is just a musical greeting to a beloved who married a Spaniard with the surname Carmen); there are intonations of L’Internationale, a quote from Shostakovich’s own song ‘Renaissance’ to the lyrics by Pushkin. The classic four-part cycle with the dramatic Allegro of the first movement, the ‘street’ scherzo, the lyrical and philosophical centre in the slow third movement is crowned by a strikingly ambiguous finale – either a victorious triumph, or an infernal exultation.

Along with Shostakovich’s Symphony №5, the concert programme includes overture to Giuseppe Verdi’s The Power of Fate – one of the best orchestral scores by the master of the grand opera style. This music brings Verdi closer to Russia: the opera was commissioned from the Italian maestro by the Imperial Theatres of the Russian Empire, and its world premiere took place in St Petersburg in 1862. The dramatic overture includes melodies of the opera’s several main arias which are commanded by the wrathful ‘motif of fate’. The theme of the cruelty of fate, the volatility of human destiny and time, which spares neither virtue nor evil, echoes the themes that Shostakovich reflects on.


musicAeterna Orchestra, Teodor Currentzis

musicAeterna concert: Shostakovich, Verdi