Britten & Shostakovich
Bethlehem Chapel, 7 September 2023 at 7.30 pm.
Benjamin Britten: Les Illuminations
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 14
Robert Jindra conductor
Pavol Breslik tenor
Maida Hundeling soprano
Günther Groissböck bass
Benjamin Britten and Dmitri Shostakovich have more in common than just the fact that they both are classics of the 20th century music. Although they were separated by the Iron Curtain, they knew each other’s work well and were united by mutual admiration and later by friendship. Besides their moral attitudes reflected in their artistic orientation, another thing they had in common was the fact that they both had a problem with their country’s establishment. Shostakovich had to make insincere political statements and write in the spirit of communist ideology, Britten lived in a homosexual relationship with the tenor Peter Pears at a time when it was illegal. The cycle Illuminations from 1940 based on Rimbaud’s lyrics is one of the few vocal pieces he did not write specifically for Pears. Britten and Shostakovich first met in person in 1960. Their contacts were revived by the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, who inspired both to write new pieces for his instrument and was also behind the dedication of Britten’s opera The Prodigal Son to Shostakovich. The latter completed his penultimate symphony, not quite normally conceived for soprano, bass and a small string orchestra with various percussion instruments, in the spring of 1969. It was a response to Britten’s War Requiem, which he considered a masterpiece. In its eleven parts, Shostakovich linked poems by four world authors dealing with the theme of death. He dedicated the symphony to Britten, who gave it its British premiere at his Aldeburgh Festival a year later.
Ticket prices: CZK 590 | CZK 490 | CZK 390
The organiser reserves the right to changes in the list of scheduled performers.