Michael Center, cello
Christophe Chagnard, conductor
Stravinsky – Circus Polka
Shostakovich – Cello Concerto No. 1
Shostakovich – Symphony No. 8
True story about Stravinsky and the “Circus Polka”… this is the actual conversation over the phone that Stravinsky and Balanchine had:
-Balanchine: “I wonder if you’d like to do a little ballet with me.”
-Stravinsky: “For whom?”
-Balanchine: “For some elephants.”
That says it all!
Michael Center, LUCO’s principal cellist, gave a memorable interpretation of Dvorak’s Cello Concerto two years ago. He returns as soloist with Shostakovich’s first Cello Concerto. This is a work of stunning vitality and pathos with one of the unusual four movements as a massive cadenza (solo cello!).
Shostakovich, who turns 110 this year, composed 15 symphonies and is regarded as one of the last masters of the genre. Choosing one of them to honor the anniversary of his birth is no easy task, as they each pose distinct challenges and technical demands. No. 8, composed in 1943, at the height of the Russian struggle against the Nazis, has been described as the most tragic of them all. The circumstances of its creation were as daunting as can be, with the outcome of the war still very much undecided and the mounting Russian casualties overwhelming. The Russian establishment was quick to criticize its lack of optimism and forbid further presentations following the premiere for the next eight years.