18 May 2017

Shostakovich (arr. Barshai) Chamber Symphony in C minor, Op. 110a 
Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 63 in G minor 
Dvořák Symphony No. 6, Op. 60 in D major 
Thursday 18 May 2017, 7:30pm
St James's Church, 197 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LL

Michael Seal, conductor
Zoë Beyers, violin

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The Allied firebombing of Dresden killed more people than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. While staying in Dresden in the summer of 1960, Shostakovich composed a quartet, his eighth, inscribed “In memory of victims of fascism and war.”  This evening we will perform Rudolf Barshai’s arrangement of this quartet for string orchestra. 

Prokofiev composed his Violin Concerto No. 2 in 1935, while living in Paris just before returning to the Soviet Union.  He completed it at the same time as his well-known ballet score Romeo and Juliet, which this concerto mirrors in numerous passages.

If the Sixth hasn't quite the stature of Dvorák's three final symphonies, it is nonetheless thoroughly characteristic of the composer.   It is the work that marks his full maturity as a symphonist, and it is by any standards one of the most ingratiating symphonies of its time.