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Grand Finale – RMM

Reykjavík Midsummer Music’s Grand Finale concert in Eldborg spans a wide musical spectrum in which the artistic powers of this year’s incomparable roster of artists are on full display. The programme begins with the catchy, quasi-theatrical Overture on Hebrew Themes by Sergei Prokofjev – written for the unusual ensemble of a clarinet, string quartet and piano. A more serious atmosphere dominates Dmitri Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 11 – a tightly woven work that despite its sparse style encompasses a whole world of fleeting memories and deep emotions. In fact, the same could be said about Johann Sebastian Bach’s famous piano concerto in F-minor, performed here by pianist Víkingur Ólafsson accompanied by a string quintet of festival artists. Its arrestingly graceful slow movement is one of the most beautiful slow movements in Bach’s entire oeuvre. The second half of the programme is centered on the piano and its possibilities, as elucidated by the foremost piano duet of our time, the French Labèque Sisters. In Sergei Rachmaninov’s Valse et Romance, however, a third pianist is needed – and Víkingur Ólafsson takes a seat between the two sisters in a thrilling, six-handed musical battle over the keyboard. The concert, and the festival itself, ends with a few brilliant minimalist works for piano duet by the two transatlantic prophets of divine simplicity – Arvo Pärt and Philip Glass.

Program:

Sergei Prokofiev                    Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op. 34 (1919)
Johann Sebastian Bach         Keyboard Concerto nr. 5 in f-minor, BWV 1056 (1738)
Dmitri Shostakovich              String Quartet nr. 11, Op. 122 (1966)

Intermission

Sergei Rachmaninoff           Walz and Romance for six hands (1890 – 1891)
Arvo Pärt                                 Hymn to a Great City (1984)
Philip Glass                            The Poet Acts  (2002)
Philip Glass                            Four Movements for Two Pianos (2008)

Artists:

Ilya Gringolts, violin
Anahit Kurtikyan, violin
Yura Lee, viola
Leonard Elschenbroich, cello
Jakob Koranyi, cello
Katia Labèque, piano
Marielle Labèque, piano
Víkingur Ólafsson, piano