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Russian Fantasy

April 5, 2020 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

  • Glazunov Violin Concerto
  • Shostakovich Symphony #5

Alexander Glazunov (1865–1936) Violin Concerto in A major, Op.82

I: Moderato      II: Andante       III: Allegro

Dating from 1904, this is one of Glazunov’s best-known works. It embodies the traditional fast – slow – fast structure of a traditional concerto, but it is played without pauses between its three sections.

The whole piece evolves from material stated at the outset. An initial theme is announced by soloist, with accompaniment by clarinets and bassoons, and then there is a more romantic second theme, accompanied by the strings. The second, slower section develops these ideas, eventually leading to an extended cadenza. The third and final section provides a recapitulation in the form of a rondo, with more opportunity for virtuosity from the soloist. Glazunov admired musical ideas from both Russia and the West. In this piece, there are hints of Russian folk tunes, with substantial elaborations.

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975): Symphony No. 5, Op. 47

I: Moderato   II: Allegretto     III: Largo     IV: Allegro non troppo

Shostakovich spent his entire career under the Soviet regime, and he was its first major composer to achieve international recognition. He enjoyed enormous success with his first symphony, written as a 20-year old student, under the tutelage of Glazunov at the Leningrad conservatory. However his next three symphonies were complete failures, and the score of the 4th was even withdrawn without performance. In 1936, communist party critics savaged his avant-garde opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and similarly denounced a ballet in which Soviet peasants on collective farms were supposedly portrayed inaccurately. While sympathetic to Soviet ideology, Shostakovich resented the artistic restrictions placed on him, especially in a large country such as the USSR, where many diverse cultures co-existed.

Shostakovich was officially rehabilitated after the triumphant 1937 premiere of his 5th Symphony. It received an enthusiastic response by audience and critics alike, including Tolstoy writing in Isvestia. Possibly to appease his political opponents, Shostakovich had subtitled the work as “…a Soviet artist’s practical creative reply to just criticism”.

The whole work is bursting with melody, and employs a large orchestration. The first movement begins with an initial leaping, wide figure in the strings, followed by a second longer melody. Musical development is achieved by a process of “accumulation” of various themes, which periodically results in strong dissonance, and clashing harmonies and rhythms. The second movement has the form of a rustic waltz, distinctly inspired by Mahler. In true scherzo tradition, Shostakovich occasionally throws in bars with an extra beat! There are two different waltz melodies, one mainly in the lower strings, and the other mainly in the woodwinds. There are also playful solos for flute and the concertmaster.

While the second movement allegretto is probably the best-known section of this work, the largo arguably includes its finest music, and it is once again inspired by Mahler. There are notable solos for the oboe over tremolo strings, other woodwinds and harp. The finale is a triumphal march, occasionally reviving material from earlier movements, then moving on towards a pounding conclusion.

Notes © by STEPHEN WALTER.

Véronique Mathieu

Described as a violinist with ‘chops to burn, and rock solid musicianship’ (The Whole Note, TORONTO), Canadian violinist Véronique Mathieu enjoys an exciting career as a soloist, chamber musician, and music educator. Recent engagements have taken her throughout Europe and Asia, and she continues to work extensively with composers. Her CD ARGOT was recently featured on a BBC series dedicated to the music of Lutoslawski, and receives frequent airplay in the US. Recent highlights include the Canadian premiere of Marc-André Dalbavie’s violin concerto with Esprit Orchestra, a performance of John Corigliano’s Chaconne during the composer’s 80th birthday celebrations, the release of a second CD with pianist Stephanie Chua, and numerous recitals throughout North America.

Véronique has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Asia, Europe, South Africa, South America, and the United States. She is a prizewinner of the 2012 Eckhardt-Gramatté Contemporary Music Competition, the 2010 Krakow International Contemporary Music Competition, and a three-time winner of the Canada Council Bank of Instruments Competition. Ms. Mathieu holds the David L. Kaplan Chair in Music at the University of Saskatchewan where she serves as an Associate Professor of Violin. She previously served on the faculty at the University of Kansas and State University of New York, in Buffalo.

An avid contemporary music performer, Véronique commissioned and premiered many works by American and Canadian composers, and recorded for the CD series New Music at Indiana University, the label of Radio-Canada, Centrediscs, PARMA, Naxos, and Pheromone.

Véronique has performed as a soloist with orchestras such as the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Shenyang Symphony Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra, Oakville Symphony Orchestra, the Filarmonica de Americana, Kokomo Symphony, Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, and the Montreal Contemporary Ensemble. Recently she has given solo performances in China, Georgia, Italy, Vietnam, as well as world premieres of works by Brian Harman and Adam Scime. Her recent CD debut of solo works by Boulez, Donatoni, and Lutoslawski was praised as a recording of “outstanding violin playing” and “stunning [performance] with amazing technique”.

In addition to her teaching and performing activities, Véronique is the co-founder and artistic director of NAVO (www.navoarts.com), a non-for-profit arts organization dedicated to bringing world-class performances to the Midwest.

Véronique won many prizes in Canada before completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Music at the Québec Conservatory. She obtained an Artist Diploma with outstanding achievement in violin performance from McGill University as a student of Denise Lupien, where was a recipient of the Ethel J. Ivey Award, and the Lloyd Carr Harris Scholarship. Mathieu completed a Performer Diploma and a Master’s Degree in music at Indiana University with professor Miriam Fried while working as an Associate Instructor in violin. She also completed a Doctor of music degree in violin performance at the same institution under the guidance of Mark Kaplan, and was a fellow at the Glenn Gould School in Toronto.

Details

Date:
April 5, 2020
Time:
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Event Category:

Venue

Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts
130 Navy Street
Oakville, Ontario L6J 2Z4 Canada
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Phone:
905-815-2021
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