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Music

Famous last works, part 1

This concert recording has a name, "Quintessence," and it's about composers' last works. The ones on our playbill in this hour of music and the next: Rossini, Schumann, Beethoven and Shostakovich. 

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Concert Hour 28 dezember #938 russian no 01

Gioachino Rossini's last work for the stage, William Tell, tells the story of a Swiss freedom fighter in a drama full of highs and lows.  

Robert Schumann's last major work, his Violin Concerto, didn't premiere until more than 80 years after it was composed. It was revived in Nazi Germany, but for all the wrong reasons: for an official event, the regime was looking for a replacement for a piece by the Jewish-born composer Felix Mendelssohn.  

Both works this hour are performed at Bonn's Beethovenfest by the Russian National Orchestra. 

1990 was a fateful year in Russia: the Soviet Union was collapsing, the economy as well, national institutions were falling apart and people standing in lines in the big cities just to get something to eat.

At that very turbulent point in time, an internationally recognized and influential artist named Mikhail Pletnev founded an orchestra that attracted the best musicians from other orchestras in Moscow. It was a risky move. The fledgling Russian National Orchestra was the first in that country to receive no government funding. Last year, only 27 years later, the music periodical Grammophone listed it among the world's top 20 orchestras worldwide.   

Gioachino Rossini
Overture to William Tell 

Robert Schumann 
Violin concerto in D Minor, first movement

Renauld Capucon, violin 
Russian National Orchestra 
Mikhail Pletnev, conductor
Recorded by West German Radio, Cologne (WDR) in the World Conference Center Bonn on September 1, 2018

Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata No. 2 in C Minor, op. 111, 2nd movement 

Mikhail Pletnev, piano
on DG 471158-2 

Moritz Moszkowski
Étude de virtuosité in F Major, op. 72 No. 6

Mikhail Pletnev, piano
on DG 471159-2 

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