Focus on Ukraine



Saturday 19:00

The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra accompanies Ukrainian artists in this concert on Ukraine’s Independence Day. There will be an element of Ukrainian folk music, for example in the new work Reflections on a Folk Song by Leonid Desyatnikov, while music from other periods and places are heard in the modern classic Der Bote, in which Valentin Silvestrov combines music by Mozart with a contemporary musical idiom. Music knows no borders, but at the heart of this concert is Ukraine.



Concert length: 1 hr 50 mins with intermission

About the concert

The Argentinian-Israeli composer Osvaldo Golijov’s 2022 work Tenebrae for string quartet is a lament inspired by two contrasting events Golijov had witnessed two years earlier. During a visit to Israel he experienced the escalation of violence, and only a week later he visited the Planetarium in New York with his five-year-old son, who was amazed to see planet Earth as a small blue dot in cosmos. The work pits brutal war against the innocence and optimism of youth.


The British composer John Woolrich’s Ulysses Awakes (1989) for solo viola and strings was inspired by Claudio Monteverdi’s opera Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Ulysses’ Return) from 1640. Ulysses has surfaced on the coast of Ithaca, confused, wondering where he has ended up and whether he is asleep or awake. Woolrich has arranged Ulysses’ entrance aria, with the solo viola accompanied by strings.


The seed of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue in C-Minor was sown in 1783, when Mozart started to take an interest in counterpoint after encountering Johann Sebastian Bach’s music. The fugue was originally written for two pianos (K426) but was adapted in 1788 for strings with an added slow, mournful introduction. Mozart described it in his catalogue as a “short adagio for two violins, viola and bass, for a fugue I wrote long ago”.


Reflections on a Folk Song was commissioned from the Ukrainian composer Leonid Desyatnikov. He is primarily known as a composer working with film and opera, and his music is described by him as “minimalist, but with a human face”.


Valintin Silvestrov is one of Ukraine’s foremost composers. His Der Bote (The Messenger) from 1996 is a sonatina, written in the form of a Mozart pastiche for piano, string orchestra and synthesizer. The work is dedicated to Silvestrov’s wife, who died the same year. The title refers to texts by the philosopher Yakov Druskin (1901–1980), whose fictive “messenger” represents a link between our world and the world beyond.


Stille Musik for string orchestra (2002) is one of Silvestrov’s most played works. The three movements are: Walzer des Augenblicks (Waltz of the Moment), Abendserenade (Evening Serenade) and Augenblicke der Serenade (Moment of the Serenade). This music radiates metaphysical depth and a melancholic power. According to the composer it is a metaphor for silence, as “the melody is a symbol for something that cannot be expressed, but rather an indication of life-affirming joy”.


Grażyna Bacewicz is considered the most important Polish composer of the first half of the 20th century, and she rose to international fame. She was never included among the ground-breaking avantgarde, but her expressiveness, sense of form and strong personality renders her music timeless. Bacewicz’s musical idiom developed from neoclassicism, via bi- and polytonality to a play with light atonality. Concert for String Orchestra (1948) is one of her most played works. Its mechanic rhythmicity and contrast-rich dynamics results in a colourful composition in the Neo-Baroque style, which has added to the concert’s popularity.


Text: Andreas Konvicka



Saturday 19:00