John Axelrod & Mikhail Petrenko
Thursday, 28 June 2018, 8.00 pm
"Adagio for strings", op 11
Chant funèbre, op. 5
Symphony No 13 B-flat minor, op 113 for Bass Solo, Men's Choir and Orchestra "Babi Yar"
John Axelrod, Conductor
Mikhail Petrenko, Bass
Männerchor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
John Axelrod makes his debut at the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra with a gripping programme. The main item is Dmitri Shostakovich’s seldom performed Symphony no. 13, subtitled “Babi Yar” (Mariss Jansons’s recording of the same symphony with the Bavarian RSO was awarded a Grammy in 2006). Shostakovich originally drew his inspiration from Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s like-named poem, a memorial to the tens of thousands of Ukrainian Jews massacred by the German Wehrmacht in the ravine near Kiev known as Babi Yar (1941). He also pilloried the Russian anti-Semitism that led to the denial of this unparalleled pogrom. By adding four more Yevtushenko poems he expanded “Babi Yar” into a monumental vocal symphony on the sufferings and “survival humour” of the Soviet people. The Thirteenth Symphony is a harrowing Requiem with Shostakovich’s distinctive penchant for satire and the grotesque – and a heroic challenge for the Russian bass Mikhail Petrenko and the Bavarian Radio men’s choir. The concert will be initiated with Barber’s “Adagio for Strings”.
Unfortunately, Yannick Nézet-Séguin had to hand over the leadership of the concerts this week due to illness. Thankfully, the American conductor John Axelrod stepped in for him at short notice, making his debut with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. The program was slightly modified for this reason.