24 March 2017

Dukas, Shostakovich, and Stravinsky

Last month, we found ourselves in the Philharmonie again, as we had tickets for a concert. This time, the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin was performing Paul Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Dmitri Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, and Igor Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. The young Israeli genius conductor Lahav Shani was conducting, as well as performing the concerto as a soloist. As I wasn't familiar with any of the pieces, and I haven't seen a conductor be a soloist at the same time, I thought it was an interesting concert worth getting tickets for.

They first played Dukas. I wasn't familiar with this piece, and I don't even know where it appears in Disney's Fantasia (most people know this piece because of that). All I knew was that this piece was used in the 1940 film. Anyway, it was a tone poem, and I must say, the orchestra made a powerful performance of it.

Immediately after Dukas, the stage directors arranged the stage a little bit, and they brought up the piano, and turned it such that the soloist was facing the orchestra. I haven't seen that kind of set up before. Normally, the piano is place such that the soloist is facing the right side of the stage (when viewed by the audience). This time, it was different. After all, the pianist was also the conductor, and I was curious how that would be.

It was interesting. I am a fan of Shostakovich's music, but this time I was more amazed by the performance, as the conductor was also the soloist. I can only imagine how a brain can handle multiple things like that. He definitely is a musician, and well-trained, to be so into the piano music and at the same time knowing how the piece as a whole blends together, that he could be the soloist and conduct it at the same time.

After the pause, they performed Stravinsky. Again, I don't know much about this piece, as I am more familiar with Rite of Spring. Nevertheless, I definitely enjoyed this piece and now am curious what the ballet would be like (the piece we listened to was an orchestral suite that was based from a ballet of the same name, of which Stravinsky wrote the music for).

It was overall a very successful evening for Lahav Shani. This man is a genius: he's not even 30, and yet he has a great career in front of him. I heard that he's the new Principal Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. I hope that he'll come back to Berlin and perform again, as it is such an interesting experience seeing such young talent.

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