Tuesday,  Oct 23, 2018,19:33 (GMT+7) 0 0
Stephane Tran Ngoc to play Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No.1
Thursday,  May 3, 2018,16:55 (GMT+7)

Stephane Tran Ngoc to play Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No.1

Stephane Tran Ngoc always plays a violin made by Francesco Gobetti, which dates from 1709 - PHOTO: COURTESY OF HBSO

Violin soloist Stephane Tran Ngoc will play Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No.1 and Elgar’s Serenade for Strings at the Opera House on May 9, 2018, 8 p.m.

Shostakovich worked on his first violin concerto between 1947 and 1948, but it wasn’t performed until 1955.

Shostakovich was a controversial figure in the history of Russian music. During his lifetime, he was considered by critics outside the USSR to be a loyal servant of the Russian state. But then a change took place, and before long he was being described as secret dissident who hid his opposition to Stalin deep within his music.

It has been suggested that Shostakovich wrote two kinds of music, a simple kind to please the censors, and a complex kind to fulfill his own artistic ambitions. His Violin Concerto No.1 undoubtedly belongs to the second category.

The work consists of four movements, more characteristic of a symphony because a concerto traditionally has only three movements. This four-movement form may indicate the importance Shostakovich gave to this work.

The first movement is a laid-back Nocturne, or piece of night music. Next comes a wild and frenetic Scherzo, to be played very fast. Next follows a Passacaglia, a form that’s something between a street-song and a court dance, but always very serious in mood. This is universally seen by commentators as the emotional heart of this concerto. It’s followed by a jokey movement, the Burlesque.

Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No.1 is a major contribution to the world violin repertoire. The composer wrote a second concerto for the violin, but it is universally considered greatly inferior to the first.

When Stephane Tran Ngoc was last seen performing in HCMC in July 2017, he astonished his audience with not one but two encores, the first a deeply introspective piece by Bach, and the second a manically extrovert piece by Paganini, written to show just how technically brilliant a violinist can be.

Stephane Tran Ngoc certainly demonstrated his own brilliant technique in his extraordinary performance. He always plays a violin made by the famous Venetian violin-maker Francesco Gobetti (1675 to 1723), which dates from 1709.

Before the interval the audience will hear Elgar’s Serenade for Strings. Few works could be further removed in atmosphere from Shostakovich’s violin concerto. Rather than being complex and introspective, Elgar’s composition is serene and lyrical, typical of much English music before the outbreak of World War I. It was premiered in 1896, and is in three movements. The central movement is especially plaintive.

The contrast between these two works, plus the participation of Stephane Tran Ngoc, will make an especially satisfying concert.

Ticket prices are VND650,000 and VND500,000 to VND200,000, and VND80,000 (students only). Discounts are available when buying tickets for three or more concerts.

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