The second month of 2024 will be enlivened by the 7th Winter Festival, organised by Ljubljana Festival from the 18th to the 23rd of February. Top musicians will perform in six unforgettable concerts at Cankarjev dom and the Slovenian Philharmonic.
GRAND OPENING WITH BRAHMS’ PIANO CONCERTO AND SAINT-SÄENS’ REQUIEM
On 18 February, the festival will begin with a performance by this year’s winner of the 1st Ljubljana Festival International Piano Competition – the Taiwanese pianist Kai-Min Chang. Chang will play one of the most challenging concertos in the piano repertoire – the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 in B-flat Major by Johannes Brahms, a large-scale work which took the composer three full years to complete. The work combines the characteristics of both a concerto and a symphony, with a structure that is subordinated to musical expression, requiring a technically demanding interpretation that is a great challenge for every pianist. The talented pianist will be accompanied by the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the distinguished French conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier. In the second part of the evening, the orchestra and maestro will be joined by the Mixed Choir of the Glasbena Matica Ljubljana, the Virtuosi Festival Choir, the Academy of Music Chamber Choir Symphony Orchestra, and the soloists Sophie Marin-Degor, Annalisa Stroppa, Celso Albelo and Paul Armin Edelmann. They will perform Psalm by Lili Boulanger, the first woman to win the Prix de Rome for composition, and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Requiem. The latter was hailed as a musical genius already during his lifetime and had a unique ability to preserve the traditional forms while experimenting with modern musical styles, thus influencing the transformation of French musical taste from grand opera to classical symphony.
J. Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
L. Boulanger: “The earth is the Lord’s”, Psalm 24
C. Saint-Saëns: Messe de Requiem, Op. 54
(18 February, Cankarjev dom, 7.30 pm)
THE POWER OF MUSIC UNDER THE BATON OF MAESTRO ROBERTO ABBADO
The following day, on 19 February, two musical masterpieces – Rossini’s cantata Stabat Mater and Busoni’s orchestral suite Turandot – will be performed at Cankarjev dom under the baton of the Italian Roberto Abbado.
Although the Stabat Mater was not Rossini’s first religious work, it became one of his most frequently performed. In addition to the original version, arrangements were later created by other composers, expanding and adapting the score for various performers and ensembles. This will be followed by Busoni’s suite, inspired by the Chinese story Turandot, which was also the basis for Puccini’s famous opera of the same name. The orchestral suite was composed in 1905 and premiered in Berlin the same year under the composer’s baton. It has since become one of his most recognisable works.
Roberto Abbado comes from a musical family – his father was the pianist and composer Marcello Abbado, and his uncle the conductor Claudio Abbado. He has been the musical director of the Verdi Festival in Parma since 2018. In the Gallus Hall he will conduct the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra in performing Stabat Mater together with the soloists Olga Kulchynska, Gaëlle Arquez, Francesco Demuro and Riccardo Zanellato, as well as the Megaron Chamber Choir.
G. Rossini: Stabat Mater for Soloists, Choir and Orchestra
F. Busoni: Turandot, selection from the suite, Op. 41
(19 February, Cankarjev dom, 7.30 pm)
PIANO WORKS PERFORMED BY A PIANIST WITH RUSSIAN ARISTOCRATIC ROOTS
The pianist Olga Kern is recognised as one of the greatest artists of her generation. Her captivating stage presence and technical musicality make her a favourite of audiences and critics alike. She began her career in America with a historic gold medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Texas, becoming the first woman to win the medal in over 30 years, and with her victory at the Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition. Since then she has performed regularly with acclaimed orchestras such as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra (Washington), La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra (Milan), Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra (Tokyo) and Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. The third concert of the Winter Festival, which will take place on 20 February at the Slovenian Philharmonic, will feature works from German Classicism and Romanticism, American Modernism and the masters of Russian Romanticism.
L. van Beethoven: Variations on the Theme by Salieri
R. Schumann: Carnaval, Op. 9
G. Gershwin: Three Preludes for Piano
G. Gershwin: “Fascinating Rhythm”
S. Rachmaninoff: Selections of 3 pieces from Moments musicaux, Op. 16 Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 33, Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3
S. Rachmaninoff: Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42
A. Scriabin: Etudes, Op. 42 (selection)
M. Balakirev: Islamey, Oriental Fantasy, Op. 18
(20. February, Slovenian Philharmonic, 7.30 pm)
A MUSICAL JOURNEY THROUGH SPAIN
On the evening of 21 February, the Slovenian Philharmonic will come alive with Trumpet Concertos by Torelli and Albinoni, performed by the virtuoso Vicente Campos, one of Spain’s leading trumpeters, winner of the National Music Prize in 2005, soloist with the Valencia Symphony Orchestra and member of the Brass Quintet. He is Professor of Trumpet and Head of Department at the Conservatory of Castellón. After the interval, we will listen to Manuel de Falla’s El amor bruja featuring the singer Lidia Rodriguez Gonzalez. As a member of the Flamenco Symphonic Orchestra (OSFE) she has won numerous awards and performed at various festivals. The soloist will be accompanied by the Slovenian chamber group Ensemble Dissonance, conducted by Miguel Á. Navarro, a renowned musician, professor and conductor. During his rich career he has worked with leading names from the world of classical music, including Luciano Pavarotti, Alfredo Kraus and Charles Dutoit. He has taught at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the University of Thessaloniki, and conducted orchestras such as the Thessaloniki Philharmonic, Valencia Orchestra and the London Covent Garden Soloists.
G. Torelli: Trumpet Concerto in D major
E. Granados: Intermezzo from Goyescas
T. Albinoni: Trumpet Concerto in B-flat major
M. de Falla: El amor brujo, ballet Suite
(21 February, Slovenian Philharmonic Hall, 7.30 pm)
STAR VIOLINIST IN LJUBLJANA FOR THE FIRST TIME
The world-class violinist Maxim Vengerov, who began his musical career at the age of five, can boast of having played at more than 3,000 concerts worldwide. In 1997 he became the first classical musician to be named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and in 2004 he became a Classic BRIT Award winner. Vengerov is also known as an outstanding teacher, sharing his knowledge with students at the Royal Academy of Music in London since 2005. On 22 February, he will create an evening of world-class music with the pianist Vag Papian at the Slovenian Philharmonic. In 1984, Valery Gergiev invited Papian – who also works as a conductor – to become the first conductor of the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra and later its Artistic Director and Principal Conductor. He has conducted many orchestras around the world and regularly appears on stage together with the master violinist. They have performed together on numerous occasions in Europe, America and the Far East, and recorded a CD for EMI Classic.
J. Brahms: Scherzo for Violin and Piano in C minor, WoO posth. 2 (3rd movement of F-A-E sonata)
C. Franck: Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major, FWV 8
A. Shor: Violin sonata No. 1
S. Prokofiev: Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in D major, Op. 94bis
(22 February, Slovenian Philharmonic Hall, 7.30 pm)
A CONCERT THAT COMBINES THE WORKS OF CLASSICAL MASTERS AND YOUTHFUL VIRTUOSITY
The Winter Festival will conclude with three works from the treasury of classical music, performed by the Slovene Youth Orchestra under conductor Živa Ploj Peršuh. The evening will open with Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn, which was written as an ode to Joseph Haydn and is the composer’s landmark work, as it is his first piece for a large orchestra without a soloist. This will be followed by Violin Concerto No.1 by the violin virtuoso Henryk Wieniawski. The work was commissioned by Russian aristocrats, and confirmed his reputation as both a composer and violinist. Wieniawski composed the work while living in Russia and it features rich melodic lines, technically demanding interludes and fiery, passionate passages. We will finish with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, better known as Eroica, which the composer wrote at a time when he was losing his hearing. This distressing personal situation probably contributed to the intensity and depth of expression in the symphony, which revolutionised the development of symphonic music and influenced successive generations of composers.
The soloist in Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 1 will be Rok Zaletel Černoš, who this year became the first Slovene violinist to participate in the prestigious International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. As the holder of a City of Ljubljana scholarship, he is currently pursuing further studies at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna under Anton Sorokow.
J. Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Haydn in B-flat major, Op. 56a
H. Wieniawski: Violin Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 14
L. van Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55 “Eroica”
(23 February, Slovenian Philharmonic Hall, 7.30 pm)
Tickets are already on sale at ljubljanafestival.si, the Križanke Box Office, gas stations and other Eventim outlets. During the pre-sale period, which runs until 30 November, Ljubljana Festival Club members are entitled to a 20% discount, and a 10% discount after tickets go in regular sale. You can join the Club via the following link: https://ljubljanafestival.si/klub/.
Thank you for your interest in the Ljubljana Festival programme.
Ljubljana Festival reserves the right to modify the programme.
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The founder of the Ljubljana Festival is the City of Ljubljana, which also provides financial support. Member of the European Festivals Association (EFA) since 1977.