The South Korean conductor Han-Na Chang is making her Concertgebouworkest debut with two exciting twentieth-century classics. The programme juxtaposes Prokofiev’s brilliant Fifth Symphony with Bartók’s Third Piano Concerto, featuring Behzod Abduraimov as soloist, and a work by Theo Verbey, who passed away in 2019.
Sergey Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony is one of the great masterpieces of the orchestral repertoire: it is epic, exciting and brilliantly orchestrated. Composed towards the end of the Second World War, the symphony is a hymn to ‘the free and happy man – his strength, his generosity and the purity of his soul’. With the Fifth, Prokofiev delivered what was expected of a Soviet composer, serving up a generous portion of typically bizarre twists and wry humour along the way.
The pianist Behzod Abduraimov made his spectacular Concertgebouw debut in 2017, most praised for his keenly sensitive and velvety tone. This quality is sure to come in handy in Béla Bartók’s Third Piano Concerto. It is a remarkably mild and melodious work for Bartók, and even has a Mozart-like playfulness to it at times. The work is still spiced with Bartók’s own Balkan echoes and unique sound effects, though.