National symphony orchestra

NSO and Mihhail Gerts:
Rachmaninov, Eduard Tubin

Friday 26th May, 2023

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National Symphony Orchestra
Mihhail Gerts
, conductor
Mirjam Mesak, soprano
Valentyn Dytiuk, tenor
Andrei Bondarenko, baritone
National Symphony Chorus

Rachmaninov The Isle of the Dead
Eduard Tubin Sinfonietta on Estonian Motifs
Rachmaninov The Bells

An evening of Eastern European romance and drama courtesy of five remarkable talents from Estonia and Ukraine, a soaring orchestral homage to Estonian folksong and two brilliant fantasies by a Russian master.

The ‘dynamic and communicative’ ( Mihhail Gerts makes a welcome return, this time for a formidable partnership with the National Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, fellow Estonian Mirjam Mesak, possessed of a voice of ‘radiance [and] a wonderful artist’ (Süddeutsche Zeitung), and two Ukrainian neighbours: the ‘dark and luminous’ tenor of Valentyn Dytiuk, and Andrei Bondarenko’s ‘ample vocal authority and magnetic stage presence’ (Limelight).

Rachmaninov’s darkly romantic The Isle of the Dead re-imagines Arnold Böcklin’s mysterious painting depicting two figures in a boat carrying a draped coffin across deathly still waters towards a forbidding shore. Moving with an hypnotic liquescent fluidity, it gives gripping voice to powerful and primal emotions in music of unforgettable passion and power.

Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Bells – a poem that takes its readers on a journey from ‘the nimbleness of youth to the pain of age’ – Rachmaninov’s four-movement ‘choral symphony’ proceeds from the childhood-innocent joy in festive ‘Silver Sleigh Bells’, through the maturity of marriage (‘The Mellow Wedding Bells’) and the terror-filled realisation of mortality (‘The Loud Alarm Bells’) and on to ‘The Mournful Iron Bells’ that toll at life’s end.

Eduard Tubin was a leading Estonian composer whose music was often influenced or borrowed from his native folk music, as in his Sinfonietta on Estonian Motifs. Brimming with all the attractiveness and charm of its source material, it is lit up by evocative writing for woodwinds, strings and brass.

Presented by National Symphony Orchestra