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Alfred Schnittke’s CONCERTO GROSSO NO. 5 Given French Premiere

Towards the end of the 1980s, Alfred Schnittke had reached the zenith of his international fame. This was when his works were being more frequently performed in the USA. For example, Schnittke, who had moved to Hamburg in 1990 and received German citizenship, was one of the thirteen composers commissioned by the Carnegie Hall in New York to write works to celebrate the occasion of the prestigious concert hall’s 100th jubilee during the 1990/91 season. The express wish was for a Concerto grosso by Schnittke with Gidon Kremer as violin soloist. Despite the delayed completion of the score, the world premiere took place as planned on 2 May 1991. Schnittke scored the Concerto grosso No. 5 for violin, offstage piano and orchestra, and it was premiered by Gidon Kremer and the Cleveland Orchestra under Christoph von Dohnányi in New York. Kremer and Schnittke insisted, despite the opposition of Carnegie Hall, that their Russian friend Alexander Slobodianik play the ungrateful and not very extensive part for electrically amplified backstage piano (it is only heard briefly at the ends of the movements). Four years later the composer crossed out the piano from the work’s subtitle, thus denying it the status of solo instrument and further emphasising the dominant role of the solo violin, which has to play almost the entire time without interruption.

The anxiously awaited French premiere of Schnittke’s Concerto grosso No. 5 will now be given on 24 March 2017 at the Maison de la Radio (Radio House) in Paris, performed by the Ukrainian-born Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under the direction of its principal conductor Mikko Franck.

24 March 2017
Maison de la Radio, Auditorium, 8 PM
French premiere: Alfred Schnittke
Concerto grosso No. 5 for violin and orchestra
Vadim Gluzman (violin)
L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Mikko Franck (direction)


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