This year’s festival opens with Fantasy Piece No1 by Robert Schumann. This title promotes a fundamental romantic ideal; the creative expression which arises from Robert Schumann’s unrestricted imagination.
A characteristic of this is the sudden emotional changes, which are a signature of so much of Schumann's music and which reflect his emotions and mood swings. The subtitle ‘tender and with expression’ is dreamlike with hints of melancholy, but the piece concludes with resolution and hope.
Pohádka, which means fairy tale in Czech, is inspired by the poem The Tale of Czar Bendvei, which is itself a modern poetic adaptation of old heroic tales. Janacek’s free treatment of the fairytale-like archetypes departs more and more from the original literary source, but it does not interfere with the programmatic character of the work.
Gabriel Faure was the first prominent composer to write music inspired by Pelléas and Mélisande, a drama written by the Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck, and based on the familiar narrative of forbidden love reminiscent of the myths of Tristan and Isolde. The Sicilienne, the 3rd movement of Faure’s orchestral suite, is widely considered as "the one moment of happiness” shared by Pelléas and Mélisande.
Jewish mysticism is devoted to all aspects of Jewish esoteric traditions. Max Bruch’s composition Kol Nidrei is based on chanted prayers in the synagogue symbolizing the purification of emotions – catharsis - on the occasion of New Year’s day. Bruch was a protestant and first became acquainted with the Kol Nidrei melody by Cantor Abraham Jacob Lichtenstein who supported Bruch's interest in Jewish spiritual music.
Prokofieff’s Cello Sonata Op. 119 was premiered on March 1950 in the Moscow Conservatory by Mstislav Rostropovich as soloist, and Sviatoslav Richter at the piano. The Sonata is a masterpiece and a landmark in the cello and piano repertory.
The first festival concert will close with this miraculous piece of music !