Andris Nelsons, the Latvian conductor now in his second season as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has a taste for Russian music.
The orchestra's opening concert, earlier this month, was an all-Russian program that included pianist Evgeny Kissin. Nelsons has peppered the remainder of the season with works by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov and embarked on an exploration of Shostakovich symphonies that will span several years.
Nelsons also chose a pair of striking works by Russians, written only a year apart, for Carnegie Hall Thursday night.
In 1938, Sergey Prokoviev was back in his Russian homeland and composed the score to Sergei Eisenstein's film Alexander Nevsky, the story of the 13th-century prince who bravely battled invaders. A year later, Prokofiev reworked the film music into a cantata for orchestra, mezzo-soprano and chorus.
In 1940, Sergey Rachmaninov was far from home, working on his final piece, the Symphonic Dances, in Centerport, N.Y. on the north shore of Long Island. Keep an ear peeled for the unusual appearance of a saxophone solo and more than a few rambunctious, Prokofiev-like rhythms and nods to ancient Russian chant.
- Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky
- Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Nadezhda Serdyuk, mezzo-soprano
Andris Nelsons, conductor