The programme includes: Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky: Khovanshchina, Prelude; Songs and Dances of Death; Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Pathétique Symphony.
Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky (1839 – 1881) composed the Prelude: Dawn over the Moscow River for his folk music drama Khovanshchina. He diligently gathered a vast amount of information about historical and social events from the turbulent period following the ascension of Peter the Great to the throne.
The orchestrated cycle for voice and piano Songs and Dances of Death was composed by Mussorgsky as a musical accompaniment to the songs of his cousin Arseny Goleníshchev-Kutúzov. The four songs Lullaby, Serenade, Trepak and The Field Marshal, originally composed for piano and voice, deal with death and the way it takes its victims in 19th century Russia.
The composer died before he could finish these works – Khovanshchina was finished by his friend Rimsky-Korsakov, while Glazunov also worked on the orchestration of Songs and Dances of Death.
In his own words, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893) poured “his entire soul” into composing Symphony No. 6 and often, while thinking about it during his travels and composing it in his mind, he would begin crying unstoppably. His last symphony encompasses both extremes of the emotional spectrum – one moment featuring a graceful dance, while another dominated by a dark mood. The form of the symphony is different – the finale is not a noisy allegro, but rather the opposite: a lengthy adagio. The title Pathétique was added by Tchaikovsky’s brother, suggesting pathos in music.