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Friday, November 27, 2020

HBSO to stage concert of Liszt and Dvorak

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HCMC – The HCMC Ballet, Symphony Orchestra and Opera (HBSO) will perform a concert of music by Liszt and Dvorak on Saturday, October 3 in the Saigon Opera House.

This event will be the second to be organized by HBSO since they re-opened after their second Covid19 shut-down. The first will be on Saturday, September 26, and will consist of opera extracts and some instrumental items.

The two works to be presented on October 3 are Liszt’s Piano Concerto Number 2 and Dvorak’s Symphony Number 9, “From the New World”.

Liszt was a famous virtuoso pianist in the mid-19th century who knew almost every composer of the era. Wagner’s second wife, Cosima, was Liszt’s illegitimate daughter.

His second piano concerto (he actually wrote three, but the third is rarely played and was unknown in his lifetime) is a complex affair. To begin with it’s in one single movement, divided into six sections. Normally piano concertos have three movements, so whether this item of Liszt’s is judged to have one movement or six it is very unusual.

It differs from his first piano concerto in giving the orchestra more prominence. The first piano concerto is a virtuoso piece for the pianist, whereas the second has the soloist frequently following the lead of the orchestral musicians.

The soloist in HCMC will be the young Hanoi pianist Luu Duc Anh, aged 27. He won first prize in piano competitions in Poland, Belgium and Sweden between 2014 and 2017, and won a special prize for the Most Impressive Artist in France, also in 2017.

The second half of the concert will be taken up with Dvorak’s famous New World Symphony.

Antonin Dvorak was a Czech composer but he accepted an invitation to go to America where he lived, conducted and composed for several years. He was especially moved by African-American spirituals, and some of their melodies appear in this symphony.

But Dvorak was engaged in an unhappy love affair at the time, and feelings deriving from this also had their influence on the symphony. The story is told in a novel, Dvorak in Love, by the Czech writer Josef Skvorecky.

But the vast landscapes of North America affected Dvorak deeply, and they are also part of the material used in the composition of the New World Symphony.

This symphony, the last that Dvorak wrote, is the most popular of all his symphonies, and probably of all his works.

This concert will be conducted by Honna Tetsuji who has been music director and principal conductor of the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra in Hanoi since 2009. He won first prize in the Budapest International Conducting Competition in 1992, and has received many other awards.

This concert combines intellectual rigor in the Liszt with melodic appeal in the Dvorak item. It should prove very popular, especially coming as it does after HBSO’s enforced closure due to the coronavirus.

Tickets are from VND300,000 to VND650,000, with a special concession for students of VND80,000. The concert begins at 8 p.m.

By Bradley Winterton

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