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Bartók & Prokofiev

Contrasts! Quick changes and bold expressiveness in Bartók’s first piano concerto, whereas Prokofiev’s last symphony is mild and restrained. Dima Slobodeniouk conducts and Martin Helmchen is the piano soloist.

Béla Bartók’s skills as a pianist was unequalled and he composed his first piano concerto with himself as the intended soloist. The solo is challenging, with quick leaps, dense chords and runs at a breakneck pace. In the truest meaning of the word: this is awe-inspiring music with quick changes and rhythmic attacks, and the piano occasionally serves as a percussion instrument. The prize-winning German pianist Martin Helmchen takes on this challenge.

As a contrast, we then move over to Sergei Prokofiev’s last symphony, the relatively mild seventh. It was composed in 1952, the year before his passing, and he was marked by the fact that the Soviet regime had condemned his previous symphony. Adding to this, he was broke and hoped to win the Stalin Prize with the new symphony, and thereby secure some money. His desire was to find a clear musical language and greater ”simplicity”. This new simplicity became a hallmark of Prokofiev’s later output. But alas, the clear and restrained seventh symphony was not awarded the Stalin Prize. It was however awarded the Lenin Prize posthumously in 1957.

Russian-Finnish conductor Dima Slobodeniouk leads the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. He is chief conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra and artistic director of the orchestra’s annual Sibelius Festival. He guest-performs regularly with many of the world’s most prominent orchestras. This concert marks his debut with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • The music

  • Béla Bartók Piano Concerto No. 1
  • Intermission: a conversation with Dima Slobodeniouk
  • Sergey Prokofiev Symphony No. 7
  • Participants

  • Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Dima Slobodeniouk conductor
  • Martin Helmchen piano
  • From a livestream 9 April 2021.
  • The video is approximately one hour.


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