Gala Opening Concert: Don Quixote

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Strauss                             Don Quixote

Shostakovich                Symphony No.10

Rafael Payare                 CONDUCTOR

Alisa Weilerstein          CELLO

Richard Strauss was by no means the first composer to be inspired by Cervantes’s comic novel Don Quixote, but his set of ‘Fantastic Variations’ is by far the most elaborate and detailed exploration of the spectacular exploits of the insane Don. The character of Don Quixote is played out by a cello solo in writing that is full of nobility, grace and gorgeous singing lines. It is a tour de force, using every inch of the cellist’s abilities, both technical and emotional – no one better to take on the role than the wonderful Alisa Weilerstein!

Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony was first performed in 1953. He had been denounced for a second time in 1948 and had been writing patriotic music for public consumption, in order to be rehabilitated. Stalin’s death in March of that year saw the premières of many works he had quietly written ‘for the drawer’ in those years following his denunciation, of which the Tenth Symphony is one. Widely regarded as the most masterful of all Shostakovich’s symphonies, it is a tribute to the triumph of the individual spirit against oppression, a telling of what life was like under Stalin – not just for him, but for millions of individuals across Russia.

Free pre-concert talk at 7pm in the main Auditorium of the Ulster Hall. All welcome.