Artists

Conductor

28 - 30 Apr '20

Tour VII
28 - 30 Apr '20

Lahav Shani

Tour

Concert dates and locations

Artists

Programme

Overture As a prelude to each concert, talented Swiss singers and instrumentalists will have the opportunity to introduce themselves to the public. This is a twofold "overture", which not only serves as an introduction to the concerts but also as a career gateway for our "our stars of tomorrow”.


Ouverture

Darius Milhaud is one of the 20th century's most productive and versatile composers. This "Frenchman from Provence and of Israelite religion", as he defined himself, left few music genres untouched. With baffling ease, he wrote operas and film music, twelve symphonies and a wide variety of choral works, chamber music and specifically Jewish pieces, not to mention a large number of "titled compositions" that widely established the reputation of this composer who finished his life in Geneva. La Création du monde (The Creation of the World) belongs to the last category of compositions. It reveals Milhaud's fascination for jazz music, which the composer first discovered in London and got to know better during his 1922 trip to New York. Upon his return to France, Milhaud was inspired to write a ballet score that references the African creation myths he found in Blaise Cendrar's Anthologie nègre. "La Création du monde emerges not as a flirtation, but as a real love affair with jazz" summarised Leonard Bernstein. Jean Börlin's Ballets Suédois premiered the piece in Paris on 25 October 1923, in a setting designed by Fernand Léger. The ballet contains five parts that successively evoke the chaos before creation, the creation of plants and animals, the birth of the human couple, the desire of man and woman and finally the kiss, a beautiful conclusion that announces the spring of human life.
Was Shostakovich a pianist or a composer? Already a brilliant virtuoso in his teens, the young musician appeared to be destined to lead a dual career until he entered the very first edition of the Chopin Piano Competition in 1927. Despite having reached the final selection, Shostakovich left Warsaw without a prize and therefore decided to focus on composition. However, he composed the first of his two piano concertos in 1933 for personal use and regularly performed the piece until the late 1950s, when he lost the full mobility of his right hand. Shostakovich then handed over the reins to his son Maxim, for whom he composed in 1957 his second piano concerto. The nineteen-year-old pianist, who was then a pupil at the Moscow Central Music School, premiered his father's deliberately light-hearted concerto at his graduation. The Concerto in F major perfectly meets the expectations of the Soviet musical authorities, who urged composers to produce "confident and positive" music as part of the regime's educational system. Shostakovich anticipated all criticism by stating (with somewhat irony) that this work has "no artistic merit". Thanks to its playful and joyful spirit, it is nevertheless one of Shostakovich's most attractive pieces. It also contains several inside musical jokes between father and son, including an allusion in the last movement to Hanon's much-loathed piano exercises for learners.
Ludwig van Beethoven worked on his Symphony No. 5 for a period of four years stretching from 1804 to 1808: a clear sign that he set high standards for his first symphony written in a minor tone. Several prominent political and private events took place in this lapse of time: the impending defeat against Napoleon, the admission of irreversible deafness, but also a new artistic level set after completion of the "Eroica". What concept did Beethoven actually pursue in the new symphony? It is a well-known fact that the famous opening notes of the "Fifth" allegedly represent "fate knocking on the door". What is decisive, however, is the musical process they set in motion. Beethoven did not simply write a symphony that begins in minor and ends in major but staged this development as something logical, if not necessary. Fate is overcome in four stages: the C major tonality appears to have already been reached at the end of the first movement before a sombre coda reverses the situation. In the second movement, the overall lyrical impression is repeatedly interrupted by marching signals that act as a premonition of the final triumph. Even the Scherzo (although the movement doesn't bear that designation) depends entirely on musical conflicts; it is here, in the last bars of the movement, that the final turn to the redeeming C major takes place. The final movement is pure jubilation. Its global ethos is expressed through the addition of instruments such as the piccolo, trombones and the contrabassoon. "Grab fate by the throat" - musically speaking, it is here that it happens!

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Good to know

Thirty-year-old Lahav Shani has already established himself as one of the most sought-after young conductors on the international scene, making a huge impression with his astonishing maturity and natural musicality. After taking his first piano lessons in Israel, he continued his musical training at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin, where he also studied conducting. In 2013, he won first prize at the Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition in Bamberg. He was consequently invited to open the season of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and became Daniel Barenboim's protégé in Berlin. In January 2016, Lahav Shani stood in for Philippe Jordan conducting the Vienna Symphony Orchestra on a major European tour, which earned him the position of Principal Guest Conductor from the 2017-2018 season onwards. In September 2018, he took over as Chief Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, succeeding Yannick Nézet-Séguin and becoming the youngest conductor in the orchestra's history. As of the 2020-2021 season, Lahav Shani will succeed Zubin Mehta as Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic. The Israeli conductor also works regularly with the Berlin Staatskapelle, both at the Berlin Staatsoper and for symphonic concerts. He is also much appreciated as a guest conductor by numerous other renowned orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris and the Tonhalle Orchestra. He also performs as a pianist and chamber musician and plays the double bass.

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