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An Age Draws to a Close. Solo Concert by Alexei Lyubimov

25 Mar 2024, 19:00–21:30
Age restrictions

Alexei Lyubimov’s solo concert casts Brahms’s late compositions as heralds of musical modernism, and Schubert as a important precursor for Brahms.

Programme 


Alexei Lyubimov returns to GES-2 with a solo programme focusing on Johannes Brahms’s late works. The leading Russian authority on interpreting the repertoire of the twentieth century, Lyubimov sees these pieces as forerunners of musical modernism. Such an interpretation was first proposed by Arnold Schoenberg, who noted in a 1933 lecture that “Brahms with his academism was a great innovator of musical language.” In 1947, Schoenberg developed this idea in “Brahms the Progressive,” paying tribute to the lessons of “economy and simultaneous richness” and “plasticity of form” he had learned from the composer. In “Philosophy of New Music” (1949), Theodore Adorno would echo Schoenberg’s words, seeing in Brahms an “advocate of a universally encompassing economy that quashes all contingent moments of music and still develops the greatest diversity—indeed, precisely this diversity—out of identically maintained materials.”

Photo: Anya Todich

These qualities are manifested in the four collections of piano pieces Brahms published between 1892 and 1893, a summary of the composer’s creative achievement. These compositions are marked by extreme laconism of expression and asceticism in choice of expressive means. Many of these short pieces were written in the capriccio and intermezzo genres: the former are typically vivid and lively, the latter imbued with a feeling of restrained grief or radiant sadness.

Lyubimov’s concert programme sets these composition by Brahms in their historical context, tracing the evolution of the nineteenth-century musical tradition from the 1820s through to the 1890s as it juxtaposes Brahms’s Seven Fantasies and Six Pieces for Piano with Franz Schubert’s Four Impromptus (1827), a late cycle written by the founder of musical romanticism only months before his death.

Alexei Lyubimov (b. 1944, Moscow) is a pianist, harpsichordist, organist, and conductor. He studied under Anna Artobolevskaya at the Central School of Music, and under Heinrich Neuhaus and Lev Naumov at the Tchaikovsky State Conservatory in Moscow. Lyubimov was the founder and leader of the Music—20th Century ensemble (1969–1974), which gave the Soviet premieres of works by Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage, Terry Riley, and other contemporary composers. In 1997, he became the head of the Moscow Conservatory’s Faculty of Historical and Contemporary Performance Art, which he founded in association with Natalya Gutman and Nazar Kozhukhar. In 1998, he became a professor at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg. His discography includes over fifty albums issued on such labels as ECM, Erato, BIS, Sony, Decca, Megadisc, and Melodiya.


Part I

Johannes Brahms (1833—1897)
Seven Fantasies op. 116 (1892)
I. Capriccio in D Minor
II. Intermezzo in A Minor
III. Capriccio in G Minor
IV. Intermezzo in E Major
V. Intermezzo in E Minor
VI. Intermezzo in E Major
VII. Capriccio in D Minor

Franz Schubert (1797—1828)
Four Impromptus D. 899 (1827)

Part II

Johannes Brahms
Six Pieces for Piano op. 118 (1893)
I. Intermezzo in A Minor
II. Intermezzo in A Major
III. Ballade in G Minor
IV. Intermezzo in F Minor
V. Romance in F Major
VI. Intermezzo in E Flat Minor

Two Rhapsodies op. 79 (1879)

* From the collection of Alexei Stavitsky’s Piano Museum and Workshop (Rybinsk)

Blüthner piano* (1868)

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