SCHEHERAZADE

Victor Julien-Laferrière, cello, Al Bustan Festival Orchestra, Gianluca Marcianὸ, conductor

Saturday, 18 February at 20:30

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Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856)
Genoveva Ouverture op. 81

Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856)
Cello concerto, op.129

Interval

Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov (1844 – 1908)
Sheherazade Op. 35

Victor Julien Laferrière, cello

Winner of the 1st prize (as well as the two special prizes) at the Spring Prague International Competition 2012, Victor Julien-Laferrière is born in 1990, and completed his studies in the Paris Conservatory (CNSM, 2004-2008).

Since 2009, he studied in Vienna’s University with Heinrich Schiff.
From 2005 to 2011, he took part in the International Music Academy-Switzerland of Seiji Ozawa.

He has played with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under Peter Oudjian in the last Spring Prague festival, and also with the Hermitage State Orchestra in St Petersburg Olympus Festival, the Pilsen Radio Philharmonic, the South Bohemian Philharmonic, the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, recitals in the Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, in Gstaad Sommets Musicaux, in Lugano Ticino Musica, in Prague EuroArt Festival, and has been invited to play at the Kuhmo (Finland), Berne, Autunno Musicale Caserta (Italy), Besançon, Deauville festivals, Nantes Folle Journée, in the Cité de la Musique and the Salle Gaveau in Paris, the Auditorium in Dijon. He also took part in many radio and TV shows, for France Musique, the BBC in London and MezzoTV. He played with such musicans like Augustin Dumay, Renaud Capuçon, Christian Ivaldi, Alain Planès, Vladimir Mendelssohn.

In 2009, he founded the piano trio “Les Esprits” together with Adam Laloum and Mi-Sa Yang ; they recorded a CD with works by Beethoven and Schumann, and played lately the Beethoven Triple Concerto in Salle Gaveau and a trio concert at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.

  • 2nd appearance at the Al Bustan Festival

The Al Bustan Festival Orchestra
For the biography of The Al Bustan Festival Orchestra, please refer to the concert of Wednesday, February 15

Gianluca Marcianò, conductor
For the biography of Gianluca Marcianò, please refer to the concert of Wednesday, February 15

Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856)
Genoveva Ouverture op. 81
Near the end of March 1847, the Schumanns—Robert; his wife, Clara, the eminent pianist; and their two oldest children—returned to their home in Dresden from a concert tour that had taken them to Berlin, Brno, Prague, and Berlin. During their travels they had found time to catch quite a few operatic and theatrical performances, and in his on-the-road diary entry for March 15 Robert expressed his “desire to write operas—plans.” He wasted no time acting on this impulse, and within a week of arriving home in Dresden he settled on Friedrich Hebbel’s play Genoveva as the subject for his opera. The drama centered on a medieval tale.

Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856)
Cello concerto, op.129
It was rather surprising that the arch-Romantic Robert Schumann should have decided, in 1850, to essay his Cello Concerto in A minor, Op 129. Schumann had started learning the cello himself in the 1830s and he had written a number of instrumental duos in which the cello is an alternative to the horn or oboe or viola; but after the success of his first work specifically for cello and piano, the Fünf Stücke im Volkston of 1849, he may have felt encouraged to try the larger medium of cello and orchestra. As originally drafted (by October 1850—it was Schumann’s first large-scale composition after he took up his duties as Municipal Music Director in Düsseldorf that autumn) the work was entitled Konzertstück, presumably because of its comparatively modest scale and the way the three movements are run together into a fantasia-like continuum, with a network of subtle thematic cross-references.

Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov (1844 – 1908)
Sheherazade Op. 35
Wherever she goes, along with her stunning beauty and cunning wits, Scheherazade always brings along the ghosts of the 1000 women who preceded her, and were unjustly slain by Shahryar. That’s why It is always easy to depict her as the smarter one, the one that got away, where in fact, she willingly put herself in Shahryar’s bed, to save the lives of another 1000 women to come. Scheherazade had perused the books, annals and legends of preceding Kings, and the stories, examples and instances of bygone men and things; indeed it was said that she had collected a thousand books of histories relating to antique races and departed rulers. She had perused the works of the poets and knew them by heart; she had studied philosophy and the sciences, arts and accomplishments; and she was pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and well bred. When she refused the wishes of her father, and showed confidence in her abilities and looks, Scheherazade’s culture, education, and beauty, spared the lives of innocent virgins, transcending her from the storyteller-prostitute slave, to the first successful feminist ever, so successful to the point that more than 1100 years after the genesis of the One Thousand and One Nights collection, a Russian Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov will choose her name as the title of what will become one of the most famous symphonic suites ever composed.
“In composing Sheherazade I meant these hints to direct only slightly the listener’s fancy on the path that my own fancy had traveled, and to leave more minute and particular conceptions to the will and mood of each,” Rimsky-Korsakov later wrote. “All I wanted was that the hearer, if he liked the piece as symphonic music, should carry away the impression that it is undoubtedly an oriental narrative of numerous and varied fairy-tale marvels, and not merely four pieces played one after the other and based on themes common to all four.”
Rimsky-Korsakov’s genius is for an art of illusion; it has nothing to do with the precise, note-specific observation of a latter-day ethnomusicologist. One day of sightseeing in Bakhchisaray was sufficient, for his purposes, to “capture the main feature” of oriental music. He sought to depict the Orient of people’s dreams, and that’s why he called the work Sheherazade: “Because this name and the title The Arabian Nights connote in everyone’s mind the East and fairy tales.” With this score, which immediately became a favorite of European and American armchair travelers, Rimsky-Korsakov ensured the power of that identification for years to come.
Sheherazade consisted of “separate, unconnected episodes and pictures,” as the composer put it, from The Arabian Nights: snapshots, in other words, of a world he never knew. Sheherazade is a triumph of imagination over experience. It’s a feast of sumptuous colors and brilliant instrumental effects—by the man, after all, who literally wrote the book on orchestration—and it quickly became a favorite romantic showpiece and a landmark in the history of descriptive music.