Ignat Solzhenitsyn will command the orchestra
Published Thursday, November 17, 2016
by WAYNE F. ANTHONY
The Toledo Symphony Classics performance this weekend offers listeners a chance to experience a perspective rarely seen these days on the concert stage. Musical powerhouse Ignat Solzhenitsyn will command the orchestra from two distinct vantage points.
The symphony is billing the program as “music that refuses to be silent”: Beethoven’s complex Piano Concerto No. 3 and Shostakovich’s revolutionary Symphony No. 5. For the first, Solzhenitsyn will serve as soloist and conduct from the piano. For the second he will take the conductor’s podium.
Currently serving as the principal guest conductor of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and conductor laureate of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Solzhenitsyn is a winner of the Avery Fischer Career Grant. He sits on the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music and the Tanglewood Music Center. He is, in short, one of the most respected musicians performing in the world today.
The works on deck are aptly chosen to reflect his abilities. At its premier in 1803, the Concerto had none other than the composer himself both on the bench as soloist and at the orchestra’s helm. In an interesting sidelight, Beethoven hadn’t actually taken the time to write out the piano part for the performance. He played from a folder that, according to his page turner, had little other than a few hieroglyphic scribblings across its pages.
The Symphony was born of Shostakovich’s battle with Stalinist censors and critics. They demanded a slimming, a paring, a return to classical ideas; he sought to continue his personal growth and voice as a composer. The resulting work, which caused him much political grief, received a half an hour standing ovation from the audience at its premiere and has been acclaimed one of his pinnacle works of genius.