St. Clair & NSO

St. Clair & NSO


2020-05-08 Fri 19:30National Concert Hall400 700 1000 1200 1500 2000
Carl St. Clair, conductor
Meng-Chieh Liu, piano

Brett Dean: Komarov's Fall
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No.1 in B-flat minor, Op.23
Sergei Prokofiev : Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet Suites

Change is a turning point, and often a crisis. It is an adventure which might fail. It is the momentum of progress but also causes insecurity, leading many people to avoid changing. There are many examples throughout history of composers attempting to create new innovative musical works and meeting with severe criticism. Tonight, the NSO will present compositions written by Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev respectively, both are imbued with rich and dense harmonic textures, rhythms, and beats that are characteristic of Slavic music and run counter to the tradition of contemporary Western music. After Nikolai Rubinstein first heard Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, he abused Tchaikovsky verbally, resulting in a temporary break within their friendship. From Rubinstein’s perceptive, it was far removed from the traditional concerto form and definitely unplayable. He was displeased by Tchaikovsky’s innovation. The German conductor, Albeit von Bülow however regarded it highly, praising its “unsurpassed originality, such nobility, such strength...” History has vindicated Tchaikovsky, with this piano concerto now regarded as one of the best in its genre. In returning to Russia after eighteen years of absence in 1936, Prokofiev brought with him the manuscript of his ballet Romeo and Juliet. He dreamt of making waves in the artistic circle of the Soviet Union. Soon he realised his dream had been an illusion. Soviet cultural officials disliked the novel happy ending to the ballet, while dancers complained its music was “impossible to dance to. Subsequently Prokofiev was attacked for his “decadent formalism” which left him in fear for the rest of his life. Despite its shaky beginnings, Romeo and Juliet, with its breakthrough humor and unrestrained rhythms unlike those found in traditional ballets, has become one of the most beloved masterpieces of modern ballet.