Vladivostok, Primorsky Stage, Great Hall

Bach. Concertos. Vivaldi. The Four Seasons

Soloist and conductor: Lorenz Nasturica-Herschcowici (Germany)


PERFORMERS:

Lorenz Nasturica-Herschcowici (violin)
Chamber Ensemble of the Primorsky Stage of the Mariinsky Theatre
Conductor: Lorenz Nasturica-Herschcowici (Germany)

PROGRAMME:

PART I

Johann Sebastian Bach
Brandenburg Concerto No 3
Double Violin Concerto in D Minor, BWV 1043

PART II

Antonio Vivaldi
The Four Seasons

About the Concert

On 24 March 1721 Johann Sebastian Bach sent Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg, the scores of six concerti “for various instruments.” The Margrave, whom Bach had met in 1719 in Berlin, was a passionate music lover who collected the scores of more than two hundred concerti by various composers in addition to being a strong proponent of Antonio Vivaldi. Bach’s Brandenburg concerti were based on a model created by Vivaldi (almost all are in three movements and feature wind instruments), but each of them is highly original. No two are alike, each is unique, and together they comprise a veritable encyclopaedia of Baroque music.
Concerti Nos 3 and 6, unlike the other four, are concerti grossi (Baroque concerti for several soloists and orchestra). They were composed for chamber ensembles in which one person would perform each part, thus making each performer a soloist. When performed by a greater number of musicians one becomes a concerto grosso, the other an orchestral concerto.
Concerto No 3 was intended for three violins, three violas, three cellos and basso continuo. The symbol of the Trinity insistently comes to mind, which the basso continuo seems to disturb. But Bach composed this part, too, on three different lines for three different instruments – the cello, violone and harpsichord. He later transformed the first movement of the concerto into the introduction to Cantata No 174, Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte (I Love the Highest with My Whole Heart, 1729). Instead of a second movement, there are just two fluctuating chords written in the score. Possibly this meant an improvised cadenza from the violin, harpsichord or other instrument; by putting something akin to a series of dots in the score, Bach was quite literally inviting the performers to work with him.

Anna Bulycheva

The Double Violin Concerto was composed in Köthen, where Johann Sebastian Bach served as Kapellmeister at the Court of Prince Leopold. Bach did not have access to a good organ, as the prince was an adherent of Calvinism and did not approve of the use of music during divine worship. It comes as no surprise that almost all of Bach’s legacy from the Köthen period comprises instrumental works of a secular character. They include sonatas and partitas for solo violin, suites for solo cello and numerous instrumental concerti. In his concerti Bach follows the traditions of Antonio Vivaldi, interpreting the latter’s experience in his own unique way. Just like the Italian maestro, Bach uses a three-movement cycle with fast outer movements framing the slow middle one, and he also builds the drama of the first movement against the contrasting sound of the full orchestra (ripieno) and the soloists (concertino). In the Double Concerto the parts of both violins are perfectly equal in status. The first movement is staggering for the complexity of its counterpoint. The cantilena closely resembles the spirit of an opera duet, and here the orchestra has an accompanying role. In the energetic finale there is almost no sense of the dance features typical of the closing movements of Bach’s concerti, although in terms of the brilliance of polyphonic writing it in no way cedes to the first movement. Bach’s Double Concerto has become one of the most popular works in the violin repertoire. One performance of the concerto in Moscow in November 1945 went down in history when Yehudi Menuhin – one of the first foreign soloists to perform in the USSR after the war – played it together with David Oistrakh.

Vladimir Khavrov

Of Antonio Vivaldi’s roughly five hundred and fifty works, his Four Seasons cycle of four concerti is a true record-breaker in terms of popularity. This was the case from the work’s very appearance. The sheet music had barely been printed in 1725 in Amsterdam – then the capital of music publishing – before it had been judged by all of enlightened Europe and become a hit of the “Spiritual Concerts” in Paris. Here the most important role was played by the poetic programme. Initially the Four Seasons were published as part of the cycle of 12 Concerti, Op. 8, entitled Cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione. Moreover, Vivaldi prefaced each of these four concerti (which opened the Cimento dell’armonia...) with a sonnet that depicted the content of the music. Who the author of these sonnets was remains unknown. Possibly it was the composer himself when writing poetic lines in his native language. The poetic motifs are traditional (the springtime awakening of nature is associated with the pastorale and autumn with hunting), but their bewitching naivety was delightedly accepted by intellectuals too, among them Jean-Jacques Rousseau. And, who knows, perhaps it was Vivaldi’s concerti that motivated the young Scot James Thomson (the author of the anthem Rule Britannia) to write his most important work in 1726 – the poem The Seasons, which has been adoringly read by lovers of philosophical poetry.

About the performers

The Chamber Ensemble of the Primorsky Stage is a group of musicians founded on the basis of the theatre’s symphony orchestra. It consists of the best string musicians, diploma-holders and prize-winners at various international music competitions. All of them are leading soloists of the Mariinsky Orchestra of the Primorsky Stage and now they will also appear as fine ensemble-members and subtle interpreters of the world’s masterpieces of chamber music. At the II International Mariinsky Far East Festival the ensemble will, for the first, time present an interesting programme prepared under the direction of the internationally acclaimed master of chamber music-making, violinist and conductor Lorenz Nasturica-Herschcowici (Germany).

Egbert Tholl wrote in the Süddeutsche Zeitung': “If you have a concertmaster like Lorenz Nasturica-Herschcowici, this all embracing embodiment of violin playing, you don’t need a soloist”. Lorenz Nasturica-Herschcowici has been regularly acclaimed not only as a violinist, but also as leader of various chamber ensembles. As a soloist and conductor he performs with top-class ensembles such as the Trio Celibidache, the Philharmonic Virtuosos of Berlin, the Berlin Philharmonic Octet, as well as the Sinfonietta Berlin. Since 2004 he has led the Munich Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and is the principal concertmaster of the Munich Philharmonic.

For many years the musician has been actively collaborating with maestro Valery Gergiev and in 2015 he took on leadership of the Stradivarius Ensemble of the Mariinsky Theatre – a unique group, which play only on ancient string instruments of Amati, Stradivari, Guarneri, Guadanini and Gofriller. The ensemble’s incredible sounding and stylish rendering of world’s musical masterpieces has made the group a favorite of the St Petersburg audience. At the Mariinsky Festival Lorenz Nasturica-Herschcowici will, for the first time, appear on the conductor’s podium with the Chamber Orchestra of the Primorsky Stage.

On 20 July, the musicians will present a programme featuring celebrated concerti by the two giants of the Baroque Era: Brandenburg Concerto No.3 and Double Violin Concerto by Johann Sebastian Bach, as well as legendary The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi.

Age category 6+

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