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Raiskin Conducts Shostakovich

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Daniel Raiskin, conductor
Bryan Cheng, cello

Symphony in C, Maxim Berezovsky (1745-1777)

Allegro molto

Variations on a Rococo Theme for Cello and Orchestra, op.33, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

 – Intermission –

Symphony No.10 in E minor, op.93, Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

Andante – Allegro

Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Cello Concerto, Op. 37 by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, will not be performed.

Program Notes by: James Manishen


© Alexei Molchanovsky

Daniel Raiskin, conductor

Known for cultivating a broad repertoire and looking beyond the mainstream for his strikingly conceived programmes, Daniel Raiskin has been the music director for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra since the 2018/19 season.

Daniel grew up in St. Petersburg, the son of a prominent musicologist, where he attended the celebrated conservatory in his native city. He continued his studies in Amsterdam and Freiburg, first focusing on the viola but was later inspired to take up the conductor’s baton. He studied with maestri such as Mariss Jansons, Neeme Järvi, Milan Horvat, Woldemar Nelson und Jorma Panula.

Along with the WSO, Daniel was appointed Chief Conductor of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra in 2020/21, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra in 2016/17.

During the 2021/22 season, Daniel took the Slovak Philharmonic and participated in a successful residency at at InClassica Festival in Dubai where they shared the stage with Rudolf Buchbinder, Gil Shaham, Daniel Hope and Andreas Ottensamer. The Philharmonic also toured Germany and Austria this past spring (2022) under Daniel’s leadership.

© Harald Hoffmann

Bryan Cheng, cello

Canadian Bryan Cheng (b. 1997) is acclaimed as “a fine artist, distinguished, of great class” (Le Devoir) and for the “dreamy beauty” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) of his music-making. He made his sold-out Carnegie Hall recital debut at age 14, his Elbphilharmonie debut in 2018 with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, and in 2022-23, he will give his ›Debüt im Deutschlandfunk Kultur‹ with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin at the Berliner Philharmonie.

Over the years, Bryan has accumulated a concert repertoire spanning five centuries, and is equally committed to both traditional masterworks and the music of his time. He has commissioned and given eleven world premieres, including two pieces by Canadian composer Alexina Louie at his second Carnegie Hall recital, the North American premiere of a cello concerto by British-Russian composer Gabriel Prokofiev (grandson of Sergei) at Koerner Hall with the Esprit Orchestra, and a multimedia project featuring five new Canadian works by composers from all regions of the country at the National Gallery of Canada.

Solo highlights of recent and upcoming seasons include his debut at the Musical Olympus Festival with the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Festival de Lanaudière with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, engagements with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande at Victoria Hall, National Arts Centre Orchestra Ottawa, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Panamá, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Wiener Stadtorchester, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim, and the Springfield (MO), Winnipeg, Kingston, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Okanagan, Niagara, Lahti, and Schleswig-Holstein symphonies; a coast-to-coast Canadian tour with the National Youth Orchestra as 2017 Canada Council for the Arts Michael Measures Prize winner; and a solo residency with the Orchestra of the Americas. Bryan has collaborated with such esteemed conductors as Jonathan Darlington, Jacques Lacombe, Susanna Mälkki, Peter Oundjian, Matthias Pintscher, Dalia Stasevska, and Joshua Weilerstein.

Symphony in C
Maxim Berezovsky
b. Hlukhiv, Ukraine / October 27, 1745
d. St. Petersburg, Russia / April 2, 1777
Composed: 1770 – 1772
First performance: 1773 (Livorno, Italy

Maxim Berezovsky was the first Ukrainian-born composer whose music aligns within the Classical continuum of Mozart and Haydn, the period in which Berezovsky lived. Recognized throughout Europe, he was the first Ukrainian composer of the 18th-century to compose an opera – Il Demofonte, successfully staged in Italy in 1773; a symphony, and a violin sonata. Berezovsky is best known for 18 sacred choral concertos written for the Orthodox Church, of which 12 have been found. They are musically related to Ukrainian folk songs within the tradition of Kyivan church singing.

Little is known about Berezovsky’s early life, but Italy clearly made an impression.

In 1758 he was accepted into the Capella (choir) of the future Tzar Peter III and two years later became a member of the Italian Capella of the Imperial Palace. Berezovsky was to remain a court musician for the next seven years. In 1769 he was sent to Italy to study with Padre Martini at the Bologna Accademia Filarmonica and graduated as a member of the Accademia two years later.

Much of Berezovsky’s biographical material is taken on a novel written about him in 1840 and a play that was adapted from it. The Berezovsky of the novel and play committed suicide in 1777 because of a Palace intrigue. This appears to be pure fiction and it is most likely that he caught a fever that resulted in his early death at the age of 32.

Berezovsky’s Symphony in C was believed lost, but in 2007 American conductor Stephen Fox discovered a copy in the Vatican Library. With its three-movement “Italian” form of the classical symphony of the time, it is possible that the work was also used as the Sinfonia or overture for Il Demofonte at its premiere in Livorno. This may account for the presence of the score in the Papal library. The work is now recognized as the first symphony written by a Ukrainian composer.

Historical Notes from 1770-1772


Symphony No. 43 (“Mercury”), Joseph Haydn
Ascanio in Alba, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 


Letter to the author of The Three Impostors, Voltaire
The Devil in Love, Jacques Cazotte


The Blue Boy,
Thomas Gainsborough

The Alchemist Discovering Phosphorus,
Joseph Wright of Derby


James Cook claims Australia for Britain
Boston Massacre

Variations on a Rococo Theme
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
b.Votkinck, Russia / May 7, 1840
d. St. Petersburg, Russia / November 6, 1893
Composed: 1876
First performance: November 30, 1877 (Moscow), with Wilhelm Fitzenhagen as soloist
Last WSO performance: 2013; Denise Djokic, cello; Aziz Shokhakimov, conductor

Though unhappy with the demands his teaching duties took away from his composing time, Tchaikovsky did meet some fine musician-colleagues while on the faculty at the Moscow Conservatory. Cello professor Wilhelm Fitzenhagen was a shy, introverted German whose personality and excellent skills found an admirer and friend in the often-brooding composer. The Rococo Variations was dedicated to Fitzenhagen.

Tchaikovsky considered Mozart the greatest composer of all – the ultimate model of the ideals explored in the late 18th-century Rococo period whose order and classical poise Tchaikovsky found to be a tonic in a turbulent world that rarely had answers to the composer’s ongoing feelings of social dislocation. In the Rococo Variations Tchaikovsky created a happy retrospective of charm and grace, with few of the melancholic elements found in the Fourth Symphony he composed just a few months later.

A gentle introduction gives way to the theme – an original one of Tchaikovsky’s. Double reeds recall his ballet Nutcracker as they give way to the first of seven variations from the solo cello, the same woodwinds capping off the first two. Variation 3 has the feel of an aria. Variation 4 is a fine virtuoso display for the cello, while the remaining variations balance everything out with the order and craft Tchaikovsky so admired in his original inspiration.

Historical Notes from 1877


Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky
Samson et Dalila, Camille Saint-Saëns


Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
L’Assommoir, Émile Zola 



Paris Street; Rainy Day,
Gustave Caillebotte


The Peacock Room,
James McNeill Whistler


Queen Victoria proclaimed Empress of India
University of Manitoba founded

Symphony No. 10
Dmitri Shostakovich
b. St Petersburg, Russia / September 25, 1906
d. Moscow / August 9, 1975
Composed: 1953
First performance: December 17, 1953 (Leningrad) conducted by Yevgeny Mravinsky.
Last WSO performance: 2010, Andrey Boreyko, conductor

Stalin’s death on March 5, 1953 – the same day as Prokofiev’s – was like a dam bursting for Shostakovich. The composer had felt the purge in 1936 when his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk was called “muddle’’ by Soviet officialdom. Again he was condemned in 1948 in the general purge by the authorities to ban abstract or difficult music that might be challenging for the Soviet people to accept. Only simple music glorifying the State would be allowed. Shostakovich knew both purges had come from Stalin.

The Tenth Symphony took little time to write during the summer of 1953. Shostakovich’s Ninth came eight years earlier and though it is not known whether he started the Tenth during those years, it has an iron construction that suggests the work had in fact been gestating.

Like Mahler’s Sixth Symphony, Shostakovich’s Tenth is one that the composer wanted listeners to experience in purely absolute terms, free of programmatic connotations, though his purported memoirs Testimony indicates he said that the work was “about Stalin.’’

Three themes drive the epic first movement, one of immense sweep that could stand alone. The explosive second movement is like a fireball. Shostakovich’s famous musical signature DSCH (the notes D-E flat-C-B) tags the opening to the first theme of the third movement, whose rising three notes reflect on the material of the previous movements.  The finale begins in Mahlerian reflection, extending to a mix of the festive and macabre with thematic material from earlier movements in a summation that stands as much for resilience of the spirit as the tragedy of its origin.

Historical Notes from 1953


That’s Amore, Dean Martin
Structures I, Pierre Boulez


Casino Royale, Ian Fleming
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury


Relativity, M. C. Escher


Coronation of Elizabeth II
Jonas Salk announces his polio vaccine
End of the Korean War