Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Philharmonia Orchestra @ Brighton Festival: Powerful All-Russian Programme Proved Great Art Wins Out

All good journalists know that a review should be short, not a history lesson, not too academic and certainly not full of quotes from the programme. Also they should not pre-judge what will be the best single item from a festival that has not yet finished.


Guess what? I am about to smash those rules apart, but stick with me - this will be interesting. Oh, and it’s the best thing at the Festival this year.

This is a review of the Philharmonia Orchestra’s performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony no. 13 in B flat minor op.113, Babi Yar and Sergey Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no.3 in C major op 26.

Suffice to say that pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii was a wonder. The Concerto no.3 is famously very hard to play and requires a lot of skill to perform, Nobuyuki held the audience in the palm of his hand.

The Philharmonia Orchestra are a great orchestra and gave him the best possible support alongside the talents of the former pianist and now conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy.

For the Shostakovich symphony, the Brighton Festival Chorus once again excelled themselves, singing in Russian with a power and precision that one expects of the great.

Sergei Aleksashkin was an incredible solo vocalist, again with a power to command the attention of an audience rapt in this incredible performance.

The Dome Concert Hall was just about sold out, so who says great art does not sell seats? Who says people are so stupid they can only handle the works of Simon Cowell? Not me folks.

Great art will always win through and Symphony no.13 is one of the most moving and powerful works you will ever witness.



From the Programme notes by James M Keller:

“‘Yesterday the Thirteenth Symphony by Shostakovich was performed’. If you had been a Russian reading Pravda, your state sanctioned newspaper, on 19th December, 1962, that is the sum total of what you would have learned about the premiere of one of the most heroic cultural moments produced in the second half of the twentieth century. You would not have read about the cloak and dagger manoeuvres that tried to keep the performance itself from taking place, nor would you have read  about the tumultuous applause that interrupted the piece at the end of the first movement.

…Symphony no.13 derived from an event on Soviet History…one that nobody wanted to talk about; The Nazis 1941 massacre of civilians, most of whom were Jewish, in the Baba Yar ravine in the north west outskirts of Kiev (in the Ukraine).

On the 29
th and 30th of September they marched every Jew they could round up to the Babi Yar ravine and…shot them at the edge of the cliff in groups of ten. According to the official Nazi count the execution toll of those two days amounted to 33,771…the majority of Ukrainians in the area proved enthusiastic, lending assistance to the occupying enemy. In the weeks that followed the Ukrainians turned over many thousands of Jews, as well as Gypsies psychiatric patients and other targets of Nazi eradication.“

Fourteen Jewish men escaped a working party in 1943 that was detailed with burning the rotting bodies to hide this terrible crime.

They told the world about what happened. But the Soviet authorities wanted to keep the matter quiet less it blur the heroism of the Great Patriotic War

This story came to the notice of Yevgeny Yevtushenko a dissident Soviet poet, who wrote his poem Baba Yar, it was then set to music by Shostakovich as the Symphony no.13.



This was a brave move.

The poem Babi Yar opens with the words:

“There is no memorial above Babi Yar.
The Steep ravine is like coarse Tombstone.
I’m Frightened,
I feel as old today,
as the Jewish race itself.
I feel now that I am a Jew.”


It goes on:

“I am behind bars, I am encircled,
persecuted, spat on, slandered,
and fine ladies with lace frills
squeal and poke their parasols in my face”


But why would these two men, poet and composer, identify so closely with this tragedy?

It seems to me that there are other factors at play concerning the state of the nation that the two men lived in.

Both had been oppressed by the Soviet system, Shostakovich was in constant fear of execution for many years under Stalin’s rule.

It seems that a sense of identification with the persecuted is at play here, this is empathy and not sympathy.

“I feel as though I am slowly turning grey.
And I become a long soundless scream,
above the thousands and thousands buried here,
I am each old man who was shot here,
I am each child who was shot here
Let the ‘International’ thunder out
When the last anti-semite on the earth
Has finally been buried.”


And later he talks of a state where:

“Fears slithered everywhere, like shadows,
penetrating every floor…
when we should have kept silent - they taught us to scream,
and to keep silent – when we should have screamed…
the secret fear of a knock at the door.”


Later he argues that men who choose to hide the truth to further their careers at the time and keep in with the powers that be will be doomed to obscurity and become objects of hate. Instead it is those who stand up for truth who have a true ‘career’.

Is there really anyone left who says that this is not a great and under performed work of art?

Awesome.

by: Howard Young (Arts Editor)




Share    


Feist's first album in six years reflects on secrets and shame, loneliness and tenderness, care and fatigue and is at its core a study on self-awareness. 


I was a Dodson and Fogg virgin until the Down At The Beach EP landed in my inbox. I am, in contrast, a long-time fan of the EP's creator, Chris Wade. He's written a wealth of book and magazine titles; the contents of which both inform and entertain. 

Alzheimer's Society has launched a new campaign calling on people in Brighton and Hove to set aside their differences - from age to tastes and social standing to political allegiances - and unite in the fight against dementia, as it’s set to become the 21st century's biggest killer.
Image © Alessia-Chinazzo

Arthur Miller's 1953 play seems to gain in resonance as time marches on - originally a response to the McCarthy-era Communist Witch-hunts, Miller was compelled to write about the actual 1692 witch-hunts in Salem, New England where neighbours and friends turned on each other in a frenzy of lies, peer pressure and a campaign of fear by the authorities. 
Copyright Francesca Grace McLeod

The Artists Open Houses festival 2017, the largest event of its kind in the UK, will take place in Brighton, Hove and beyond over four weekends of May, starting Saturday 6th May.

This spring, Brighton is set for a surprise as an entertainment paradise pops up in the leafy greenery of the Royal Pavilion Garden. 

Byline Festival launches at Pippingford Park, East Sussex, this summer, offering festivalgoers a unique opportunity to recapture the spirit of festivals when they had a sense of purpose. It is for everyone who doesn't want to take Trump, fake news or alternative truth lying down.

Next month, May 2017, marks Chris T-T's 20th anniversary making music. The same week in 1997 that Tony Blair came to power, Chris moved to London and before the end of May he’d played his first solo gigs (Chris that is, not Tony) and self-released his debut 7” single.  

Three friends with a passion for philanthropy and adventure have decided to take on the Mongol Rally to raise funds and awareness for St. John's School and College, a special educational needs school, college and charity based in Kemptown, Brighton and Firle Road, Seaford.

You hear it all the time: 'Bands these days have got nothing to say' .. 'It's not like it was in my day' .. 'Where are the voices of today's generation?'

Woody Allen is seemingly fixated on the end. He has little truck for the long haul that leads up to his inevitable demise. Life to him, like film making, is ‘'a different kind of pain.’

Edgar William Jones, also known as Edgar Summertyme, is an English singer-songwriter and musician who was originally the bass player and singer-songwriter for the Stairs and has since formed and fronted the Isrites, The Big Kids, Edgar Jones & the Joneses and Free Peace. 
Kate Tempest by Eddie Otchere

At a political and social moment that feels particularly precarious, Kate Tempest's Brighton Festival programme (6-28 May 2017) celebrates what she calls the Everyday Epic. 

Experts in HIV will gather at a special Brighton Festival event to discuss the city's United Nations ''Fast Track City' status.

Archive search

Search our archives for what's on and gone for the best of this city's theatre music comedy news and much more...







Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd