Valery Gergiev conducts Brahms and Szymanowski — With Janine Jansen

London Symphony Orchestra

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Janine Jansen — Violinist

London Symphony Orchestra

Valery Gergiev — Conductor

Program notes

Alongside Maestro Valery Gergiev at the helm of the London Symphony Orchestra, the brilliant Janine Jansen performs Karol Szymanowski’s “terribly fantastical and unexpected” (in the composer's words) Violin Concerto No. 1. Written in 1916 and premiered in 1922, the work's single but internally-differentiated movement breaks with the Romantic convention of a three-movement concerto combining lyricism and technical brilliance. In Szymanowski's new language an unceasing multiplicity of ideas, unfolding along a daring spectrum of timbre and tone, results in an astonishing poetic unity in this piece that emblematizes twentieth-century innovation.

The undersung Polish composer’s First Symphony (1909) comprises only two movements—the columns supporting an ambitious contrapuntal and harmonic monument that Szymanowski ultimately left unfinished. The work nonetheless provides ample evidence of the impressive technical abilities of a composer who would go on to establish himself as a key figure in the musical avant-garde. Brahms’s beloved First Symphony rounds out the program, exemplifying the kind of canonical masterwork that helped form Szymanowski as a composer in his younger days, and against which his later, boldly modernist work would rebel.

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