Valentines Day Concert - Winter Dreams
Moscow Symphony Orchestra - Arthur Arnold, Conductor
Lucas Geniu?as - Piano
Tchaikovsky - Overture Romeo & Juliette
Beethoven - Piano Concerto No. 3
Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 1, Winter Dreams
Tchaikovsky - Overture Romeo & Juliet
Stories of doomed love always resonated deeply with Tchaikovsky; Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet was no exception. In 1869, when Tchaikovsky took up the play as a musical subject at the suggestion of fellow composer Mily Balakirev, he was deeply in love with Eduard Zak, a 15-year-old cousin of one of his students. Zak committed suicide four years later, and, when Tchaikovsky pondered the incident in his diary in 1887, his recollection of Zak reveals how strong his feelings for the boy were: “How amazingly clearly I remember him: the sound of his voice, his movements, but especially the extraordinarily wonderful expression on his face at times. I cannot conceive that he is no more. The death of this boy, the fact that he no longer exists, is beyond my understanding. It seems to me that I have never loved anyone so strongly as him.”
Shakespeare’s tragedy and Tchaikovsky’s tortured personal life collided to produce the first true expression of his genius as a composer, a tautly constructed masterpiece that boils Shakespeare’s narrative down to its essentials in 20 minutes of music that is, by turns, thunderingly dramatic and achingly beautiful. The fantasy-overture opens with a lengthy introduction before presenting its two main theme groups: oppressively brutal music representing the conflict between the Capulets and the Montagues, and a rapturous love theme for Romeo and Juliet. The second statement of this theme is interrupted by the music for the warring families as Romeo and Juliet’s love is crushed by the two families’ seething hatred for one another. After a somber reworked version of the love theme in the minor mode, it is transfigured into music that is serene and chorale-like, ending the piece on a triumphant and otherworldly note.
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 1 - Winter Dreams
Most artists begin their careers through the auspices of a generous or affectionate advocate, a teacher or patron whose encouragement and recommendation go far toward gaining the early exposure necessary for success. Tchaikovsky's was Nikolai Rubinstein, the pianist/conductor who invited the 25-year-old to Moscow in 1866 to teach harmony at the Russian Musical Society, the academy he had founded and would later become the Moscow Conservatory.
The young composer, who had already given up his first career in law to devote himself to music, had just graduated from Russia's principal conservatory--that at St. Petersburg, where Nikolai's brother, Anton, had been one of his teachers. Nikolai overlooked the young composer's inexperience as a teacher in appointing him to the new faculty, doubtless because he saw in him the spark of genius. During Tchaikovsky's first years in Moscow, Rubinstein took him under his wing both socially and artistically, conducting his early orchestral works and advising him on potential new ones. After the success of the Overture in F in March 1866, Rubinstein suggested to Tchaikovsky that he embark on a full-length symphony, which he would conduct.
It proved a torturous task. The young composer produced a first version during the spring and summer of 1866 and revised it later that year. Nikolai performed the work piecemeal, conducting the scherzo in December 1866 at a meeting of the Musical Society, then the slow movement with scherzo in February 1867, and finally all four movements in February 1868. Dissatisfied with the result, Tchaikovsky revised the piece once more in 1874 for its publication the following year. It is this third version that we know today as the "Winter Dreams" Symphony.
Unlike Tchaikovsky's "Little Russian" or "Polish" Symphonies (Nos. 2 and 3), whose subtitles were bestowed by later critics, the First Symphony was named "Winter Dreams" by the composer. In the printed edition of the score, Tchaikovsky gave further titles to two of the symphony's movements, calling the first "Dreams of a Winter Journey" the second "Desolate Land, Land of Mists." None of this is to suggest that the symphony is openly programmatic, however, for such titles were common in music of the period. They were most often intended simply as "mood descriptions." While a wintry landscape is certainly one of the moods evoked by the G-minor Symphony, there is nothing especially "desolate" about the slow movement.
A certain unlabored freshness pervades the symphony, a directness of expression that is sometimes lacking in Tchaikovsky's later works. This immediacy is apparent in the opening theme of the Allegro tranquillo, heard first in octaves by solo flute and bassoon, and in the assertive chromaticism of the vigorous transitional theme. This Allegro's development section is remarkable not only for its "un-academic" counterpoint but for the intuitive climax built through a gradual evolving of the thematic material.
An Adagio cantabile ma non troppo forms the second movement, which builds from a sentimental and plangent oboe solo over muted strings to a highly emotional peak with full orchestra, after which the movement returns to its opening melancholic mood. The scherzo (Allegro scherzando giocoso) contains something of Mendelssohn's "elfin" mood, though it is a highly original creation; its trio section, a lilting waltz, looks ahead to Tchaikovsky's later ballet scores. The finale begins with a sophisticated introduction(Andante lugubre), then embarks on a discursive finale (Allegro maestoso) that takes the listener through a nomadic tour of tonalities, thematic transformations, and contrapuntal developments. (The appearance of the folk tune "The Garden Blooms" is perhaps the composer's way of saying that, as in The Snow Maiden, winter's icy grip has been eased, and spring is anon.) Despite the finale's somewhat loose organization (or perhaps because of it), it forms a satisfying conclusion to this most straightforward and emotionally sober of Tchaikovsky's six numbered symphonies.
"While his peers are doing their best to charm everyone around, including the global music industry, Mr Geniusas has embarked on an altogether more serious mission: an agonizing search for a performance style that is fully modern and catching the spirit of the age." Kommersant Russia.
Born in Moscow in 1990, Lukas Geniu?as started piano studies at the age of 5 at the preparatory department of F. Chopin Music College in Moscow, going on to graduate with top honours in 2008.
He was born into a family of musicians which played a major role in Lukas’ swift musical development. His grandmother, Vera Gornostaeva, the prominent teacher and professor at the Moscow Conservatory, became his first mentor. This culminated in Lukas winning the Silver medal at the Chopin International Piano Competition in 2010 and, in 2012; Lukas was nominated and became the recipient of the German Piano Award in Frankfurt am Main.
He has appeared with numerous orchestras including the Hamburg Symphony, Duisburg Symphony, BBC Scottish Symphony, Kremerata Baltica, Katowice Radio and Warsaw Philharmonic. He has also collaborated with conductors such as Andrey Boreyko, Saulius Sondeckis, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Antoni Wit, Roman Kofman and Dmitry Liss amongst others. His international career has already seen him perform at venues throughout the world, as well as at a number of prestigious festivals including the Rheingau, Ruhr and Lockenhaus Music Festivals. Highlights of the 2013-14 include concerts with the Frankfurter Museumsorchester at the Alte Oper, as well as his concerto debut at the Tonhalle Zurich. In recital, he will return to the Festival de La Roque d'Anth?ron and make his Paris debut at the Salle Gaveau.
His musical interests are extensive and he explores a wide range of repertoire, from Baroque right up to works by contemporary composers. His repertoire spans from Beethoven Piano Concerti through to Hindemith’s ‘Ludus Tonalis’ Cycle, as well as a strong interest in Russian repertoire such as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov.
Lukas is an avid chamber music performer. He is an extremely inquisitive performer and enjoys working on new works by modern composers, as well as resurrecting rarely performed repertoire.
At the age of 15, he was awarded a federal grant ‘Young Talents’ from the Russian Federation and two years later was awarded the ‘Gifted Youth of 21st Century’ grant. He has since received many accolades and awards in recognition of his talent.