Violinist Daniel Hope (second from left) gathers fellow string players at the 2012 Savannah Music Festival for a concert of Russian chamber music. Frank Stewart hide caption

toggle caption
Frank Stewart

Violinist Daniel Hope (second from left) gathers fellow string players at the 2012 Savannah Music Festival for a concert of Russian chamber music.

Frank Stewart

Classics in Concert

Savannah Music Festival's Russian Reminiscence

Arensky and Tchaikovsky

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/149921959/149845251" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

As associate artistic director of the Savannah Music Festival, British violinist Daniel Hope has the luxury of calling some of the programming shots. And it's no surprise to find him playing a concert of Russian music. Hope might have studied at London's Royal Academy, but his teacher there was the revered Russian pedagogue Zakhar Bron, who has stirred up Slavic passion — Bron also taught Vadim Repin and Maxim Vengerov, two Novosibirsk violinists who rose to major international careers.

In this program, Hope and his handpicked group of players begin with a musical memorial to Tchaikovsky and close with music by the master himself. When Tchaikovsky died in 1893 at age 53, he left more than a few young Russian composers devastated. Sergei Rachmaninov responded with a brooding, elegiac piano trio dedicated to Tchaikovsky's memory. Anton Arensky went one step further in his Second String Quartet, borrowing one of Tchaikovsky's best-loved melodies (from the song "Legend") to serve as the emotional heart of the piece. There's a palpable air of solemnity in Arensky's music, written for the non-traditional ensemble of violin, viola and two cellos. Arensky later revamped his three-movement piece by extracting the central movement, a set of variations on Tchaikovsky's song, and beefing it up into a stand-alone piece for string orchestra.

Tchaikovsky's Souvenir of Florence, which concludes this concert, sports a sunnier, more vigorous vibe. In early 1890, Tchaikovsky travelled to Florence, Italy to work on his opera The Queen of Spades. While there he wrote down a theme that would, in a few months time, blossom into a piece he promised to the St. Petersburg Chamber Music Society, a sextet for two each of violins, violas and cellos.

Tchaikovsky sketched out the 35-minute work in less than three weeks, but found the task difficult. It wasn't a lack of ideas, he told his brother Modest, "it's the complexity of the form. There must be six independent yet compatible voices."

After a run-through in Tchaikovsky's apartment in November 1890, with Alexander Glazunov and Anatol Liadov in the room, the sextet received its premiere. But Tchaikovsky wasn't totally satisfied. In November 1892, the revised Souvenir of Florence received its formal debut, making it one of Tchaikovsky's last major works. One year later he would be dead.

Set List:
  • Anton Aresnsky: String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 35
  • Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence, Op. 70 (for string sextet)
Personnel:
  • Daniel Hope, violin
  • Benny Kim, violin*
  • Josephine Knight, cello*
  • Keith Robinson, cello*
  • Carla Maria Rodrigues, viola*
  • Philip Dukes, viola

* Arensky ensemble

Recorded March 28 at the 2012 Savannah Music Festival

[+] read more[-] less

More From Classical

Ludovico Einaudi, performing live for KCRW. Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW hide caption

toggle caption Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW

Favorite Sessions

Ludovico Einaudi, 'Petricor' (Live)

KCRW

Watch the pianist and composer, joined by a full band, in a stunning live performance for KCRW.

Opera singer Joyce DiDonato created this video to go with her new album, In War and Peace: Harmony through Music. Warner Classics hide caption

toggle caption Warner Classics

Music

In Chaotic Times, A Singer's Plea For Freedom

Opera star Joyce DiDonato's new video depicts a woman trapped in conflict.

Genard Ptah Blair dances to Carolina Eyck's music in a magical video directed by Sonia Malfa. Sonia Malfa hide caption

toggle caption Sonia Malfa

All Songs TV

Get Lost In Carolina Eyck's Ethereal Garden

A magical landscape, a theremin and an elastic dancer offer an innocent escape from a hectic world.

A still from Maya Beiser's "Air" video. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

All Songs TV

First Watch: Maya Beiser, 'Air'

In a new video, the cellist reflects on her childhood and the timelessness of J.S. Bach's music.

Yuja Wang played a demanding program at Carnegie Hall, topped by four encores. Ebru Yildiz/for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ebru Yildiz/for NPR

Carnegie Hall Live

Yuja Wang Plays Carnegie Hall

WQXR radio

Hear one of today's most charismatic pianists tackle the toughest sonata Beethoven could muster.

Yuja Wang Plays Carnegie Hall

Audio is no longer available

Conductor Mariss Jansons led the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall Wednesday in Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7, "Leningrad." AJ Wilhelm for NPR hide caption

toggle caption AJ Wilhelm for NPR

Carnegie Hall Live

The 'Leningrad' Symphony At Carnegie Hall

WQXR radio

Mariss Jansons leads the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Shostakovich's wartime epic.

The 'Leningrad' Symphony At Carnegie Hall

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/474662768/475125195" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Michael Mizrahi channels the harpsichord in new music by Troy Herion. Eno Swinnen/Courtesy of the Artist hide caption

toggle caption Eno Swinnen/Courtesy of the Artist

All Songs TV

First Watch: Michael Mizrahi, 'Harpsichords'

Pianist Michael Mizrahi channels old school harpsichord music in a new piece by Troy Herion.

Music director Iván Fischer leading an Budapest Festival Orchestra concert at Carnegie Hall in New York Thursday. A.J. Wilhelm for NPR hide caption

toggle caption A.J. Wilhelm for NPR

Carnegie Hall Live

Budapest Festival Orchestra Plays Carnegie Hall

Iván Fischer conducts a Liszt piano concerto with soloist Marc-André Hamelin.

Budapest Festival Orchestra Plays Carnegie Hall

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/466299701/467669984" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Lawrence Brownlee performs with pianist Jason Moran in the active crypt below the historic Church of the Intercession in Harlem. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Field Recordings

Singing For Life In A Crypt In Harlem

Opera singer Lawrence Brownlee joins jazz pianist Jason Moran in an old spiritual.

Back To Top