Daníel Bjarnason, conductor
Juho Pohjonen, piano
Grażyna Bacewicz: Overture
Daníel Bjarnason: Processions for Piano and Orchestra
Witold Lutosławski: Symphony No. 3
“I have always been interested in the boundary between the subconscious and the conscious. Maybe that’s why I’m fascinated by extreme contrasts.” Daníel Bjarnason’s Processions is a handsome, big-boned piano concerto that proudly follows in the steps of Rachmaninov’s and Prokofiev’s concertos. The work premiered in 2009 in the midst of social turmoil at the height of the Icelandic banking crisis. Citizens gathered in large numbers in loud protests in front of the Icelandic parliament to demonstrate. No one knew what was to come. That concert and his concerto gained a special place in the hearts of the composer, musicians and audience.
The concert’s concluding piece, the third symphony by Polish composer Witold Lutosławski, also premiered in the midst of a national turmoil. While the composer was working on his symphony, his participation in Polish public life was blocked due to his support for the Solidarity Movement and his accompanying statements. Lutosławski himself opposed interpreting his works in the light of the circumstances in which they were composed, but his third symphony has a wealth of musical material to support interpretations describing it as a protest symphony. The brilliant, path-seeking melodies and fragile ornamentation are crushed, suppressed and silenced by superior melodic masses and a repetitive beating melody throughout the symphony.