SZSO to grace SZ Grand Theater

Writer: Li Dan  |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2023-03-15

This Friday and Saturday, the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra (SZSO) will perform two concerts at the Shenzhen Grand Theater. Conducted by its artistic director Lin Daye, the two concerts will present the works of classical master Brahms and Shenzhen-based contemporary composer Zhang Ruodi.

Lin Daye

To mark the 190th birth anniversary of the great German composer this year, Friday’s concert will bring three widely performed pieces from Brahms: “Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80,” the contrasting “Tragic Overture, Op. 81” and “Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83.” Chen Moye, a concert pianist who teaches at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, will be the soloist.

The composer wrote two concert overtures in 1880, which he described in his own words, “one weeps, the other laughs.” The laughing piece referred to his rollicking “Academic Festival Overture,” filled with light-hearted student songs, written to acknowledge his doctoral degree bestowed by the University of Breslau, introduced by soft trombone chords. The weeping piece was his “Tragic Overture,” a heavy counterpoise to the first.

Though it was not written for any specific tragedy, speculation suggested the latter piece was possibly written in anticipation of a commission to create incidental music for Goethe’s “Faust,” which, however, did not materialize.

Another possibility is that the composer had read Nietzsche’s work “The Birth of Tragedy From the Spirit of Music,” published in 1872. The work could be a dramatic commentary on the spirit of tragedy in human life.

Contemplation for “Piano Concerto No. 2” began in the spring of 1878 during the composer’s visit to Italy, but it was not complete until three years later when Brahms visited the country again.

Written in four movements instead of the more common three for a concerto, the work is profound and composed like most of Brahms’ other pieces but also speaks of the gentle and bright side not typical of the composer. Treating the orchestra with almost the same importance as the piano, he meant this piece to be a symphony led by the piano.

The premiere of the concerto was given in Budapest in 1881, with Brahms as soloist, and was an immediate success. He then proceeded to perform the piece in many cities across Europe.

Chen Moye

Chen, who received his artist diploma and doctorate of musical arts at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and University of Illinois respectively, has won multiple awards at competitions including the 11th Sydney International Piano Competition and the 58th Cincinnati World Piano Competition. He is signed with Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Music Australia as a recording artist.

Subsidized by the Shenzhen Young Musicians Association, this concert offers tickets at lower prices than usual.

Zhang Xiqiu

In collaboration with tenor Zhang Xiqiu and pipa player Duan Yankun, SZSO will perform four symphonic works by composer and pedagogue Zhang Ruodi on Saturday. The program will include “New Era Symphony Overture,” “Drinking Alone Under the Moon,” “Peony” and “Symphony No. 2: Ode to China.”

Duan Yankun

While “Drinking” is inspired by Tang (618-907) poet Li Bai’s poem of the same title, “Peony” depicts the beauty of the flower as well as its metaphor for the prosperous and peaceful life of the Chinese people.

The overture is a work commissioned by SZSO to mark the 20th National Congress of the CPC held last year, and Zhang’s second symphony is a four-movement epic that narrates the long history of Chinese civilization while singing an ode to the undaunted ethos of the Chinese people.

Time: 8 p.m., March 17-18

Tickets: 50-480 yuan

Booking: WeChat account “深圳大剧院票务在线”

Venue: Shenzhen Grand Theater (深圳大剧院)

Metro: Line 1 or 2 to Grand Theater Station (大剧院站), Exit C