The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, skillfully led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, presents a captivating evening of moving musical masterpieces by Mahler and Shostakovich that ask probing questions about the darker side of human existence.
The writings of great Russian poets inspired both pieces on the evening’s program: Adam Mickiewicz's works for Totenfeier and Yevgeny Yevtushenko's for the Thirteenth Symphony. In his writings about Totenfeier, Mahler explained, “when in front of the tomb of a beloved person, questions must be asked: what does death mean? Does something come after?” Almost a century later, Shostakovich asked the same questions while facing the horrors of the Nazi and Soviet regimes. Over the course of his life, Shostakovich rebelled against the Communist Party’s artistic obsessions and was personally impacted by the Soviet purges that almost killed him. Babi Yar (the subtitle of his Symphony No. 13) is a reference to a terrible shooting massacre that took place in Ukraine during the Holocaust, and the work transforms Shostakovich's horrifying experiences into a profoundly powerful humanist work in his own image.
Photo: © Bob Bruyn
Yannick Nézet-Séguin appears courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon
We would like to thank Concert Hall De Doelen for their partnership.