When the Russian conductor Valery Gergiev and the equally passionate violinist Janine Jansen meet on the concert stage, sparks are sure to fly. Never before have the two guests performed together with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, so it was about time. The programme comprises two early Twentienth Century classics of unearthly beauty: Sibelius’ Violin Concerto and Ravel's complete ballet score Daphnis et Chloé.
Sibelius’ only Violin Concerto contains both fairy-like and melancholic episodes as well as virtuosic passages. It cost Sibelius much effort to compose the work – it bothered him that his own career as a violin virtuoso had never come off the ground. As a composer however, he was already a national hero of Finland and an international celebrity. His Violin Concerto triumphed and is on par with those by Beethoven and Britten.
After the interval, Valery Gergiev and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra will be treating you to Maurice Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé - the complete ballet score, that is - not one of the suites which are normally programmed today. The French composer wrote his symphonie chorégraphique, as he himself called it, for Serge Diaghilev and his legendary Ballets Russes. He set the Greek love story for large orchestra and wordless chorus, here the chorus of the Dutch National Opera. Ravel's fellow composer Stravinsky called the ballet Ravel's very best work and even claimed it was the most beautiful French music he had ever heard.