At this concert, the Iceland Symphony presents two key 20th-century works and introduces a recent prize-winning composition that has been a worldwide triumph. Sergei Prokofiev wrote his Symphony no. 5 in a single month in summer 1944, when World War II was still raging. This lush and powerful work has long ranked among the composer’s most popular. Debussy’s lyrical symphonic poem Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun strikes an entirely different tone. The colourful music in this watershed work is inspired by a poem about the dreams and desires of a faun in the heat of the afternoon.
Jennifer Higdon ranks among today’s foremost American composers. In 2010 she won the coveted Pulitzer Prize for her Violin Concerto, written for Hilary Hahn. The adjudication panel for the Pulitzer called the work “a deeply engaging piece that combines flowing lyricism with dazzling virtuosity.” The critic from Gramophone magazine agreed, calling it “an attractive, colourful work”. This is the Icelandic premiere of Higdon’s inventive and imaginative concerto.
Both conductor and soloist are young Americans with a bright future. Violinist Benjamin Beilman, a former student of German virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff, is now travelling the world over with his 1709 Stradivarius in tow. His first CD got rave reviews, with critics from The New York Times and The Strad enthusiastically praising his exciting playing and dreamy lyricism.
In recent years, Roderick Cox has served as Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, where Osmo Vänskä is Chief Conductor. The recipient of the 2018 Georg Solti Award for young conductors, Cox has drawn considerable attention for his vitality and precise conducting style.
Claude Debussy: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
Jennifer Higdon: Violin Concerto
Sergei Prokofiev: Symphony no. 5