Gulag is a musical piece for full orchestra in one movement; principally it belongs to the genre of symphonic poems in which the composer condenses his message in one single musical image to represent the spiritual essence of his subject. The poem was composed in 2008 and it was first performed by the symphonic orchestra of Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca,-Klausenburg) Hungarian Opera directed by György Selmeczi.
As for his source of inspiration, the composer was strongly influenced by certain reports heard directly from survivors of unbelievebly cruel events; events that happened in scenes of ultimate repression in regimes based on force arid dictatorship during the 2Oth century. Speaking about his work, the composer has mentioned several times that "his intention was to create a symphonic memorial to remind and warn of general human suffering." and he has stated that "any questions like where were suffering and death the most unbearable seem rather undeserving. This idea is well expressed by the motto of 'Gulag' on the first page of the scores: 'In such an age I dwelt on earth'.
Concerning his means of expression, Boldizsár Csíky has remained faithful to his style of accentuated polyphonies. Tension in his music is created by
simultaenously sounded contrapunctical lines of contradictory character which enfold through intensified orchestrational effects. Beside a choral with bitter intonation, breath-taking vocal fragments appear representing the distant homeland, 'the hidden heartland of home'. The concluding psalm text of 'De profundis clamavi’ sung by a male choir sacralize the musical image of universal human suffering.
Cello Concerto No.1, E Flat major, op.107
I. Allegretto II. Moderato III. Cadenza IV. Allegro con moto
"My next large-scale work will be a concerto for cello and orchestra" - declared Shostakovich in June 1959, to Sovietskaia Muzika. "I have already completed the first movement, an Allegretto with the character of a jokey march. All in all, the concerto will be in three movements. I find it hard to say anything definite about its content. Questions such as these, despite their naturalness and simplicity, always seem very hard to me. Since it is not uncommon that during composition, a work can change quite radically both in its form and range of expressive devices. Sometimes, in its genre as well. Therefore I can merely inform you that I have been planning this work for quite a long time. The initial impetus for its composition came when I first became acquainted with Serge Prokofiev's Symphonie Concertante for cello and orchestra.." As for the composition's ultimate form, the caution that Shostakovich witnesses in this statement proved to be highly justified. As he worked on it, the Cello Concert No. 1 swelled into a four movement work: Shostakovich placed an extended cadenza between the slow second movement with its evocation of Russian folk music, and the rondo form finale, labeling it as an independent movement. Its four movement character - which is relatively uncommon among concertos - also deeply influenced the works "content" (to use contemporary Soviet terminology), since the cadenza, which originally was a vehicle to allow the virtuosity of the soloist to shine, here is transformed into a veritable monologue, the lyrical frankness of which makes a sharp contrast with the disaffected sonorities that recur throughout the rest of the work (such as the "jokey" march). The composer completed his Cello Concerto No. 1 in the summer of 1959, and it was premiered on October 4th that same year. It was conducted by Evgeny Mravinsky, and the soloist was Mstislav Rostropovich, to whom the work is dedicated. Incidentally, it was Rostropovich who premiered the Prokofiev Symphonie Concertante which initially so inspired Shostakovich.
Requiem, K. 626
There have been a host of masterpieces in music history, to which over time, various stories have attached themselves, often making them more popular as a result. Sometimes, they even result in the work picking up a nickname. The majority of these have proven apocryphal, but one of the most extraordinary stories of all, the one surrounding Mozart's Requiem, has, against the odds, turned out to be true.
In the last year of his life, Mozart was working feverishly on the Magic Flute. He was visited by a mysterious stranger who would not name himself and who commissioned a requiem mass from the composer. On a number of occasions, the man appeared dressed in black, to hurry Mozart along. At this time, Mozart was seriously ill. It makes the often stated assertion that Mozart felt he was writing his own Requiem all the more credible. Indeed, his illness proved fatal, and Mozart was unable to complete it. Even on his last day on earth, Mozart was still humming the work's melodies.
After his death, Mozart's most likeable pupil, Franz Xaver Süssmayr completed the score. Music scholars are still debating whether Süssmayr was working from sketches or else from his own imagination, when he produced the missing Sanctus, Benedictus and first part of the Agnus Dei. In any event, he produced a passable imitation of Mozart's style, something that is a credit to his humility and also shows that a composer of middling abilities is able just occasionally to approach the level of a master. It transpired that the mysterious man in black was a shady aristocrat, Count Walsegg, who to maintain the fiction that he was himself a composer, was in the habit of making commissions from local composers (and of course, denying the true provenance of the works he paid them for). The first performance of the Requiem probably took place in the chapel of Walsegg's mansion, which was performed as a requiem to his wife (composed by himself, naturally). Constanze, Mozart's widow, soon made the work public under Mozart's own name and ensured its publication.
Süssmayr was not the first person to attempt a completion. Originally, Mozart's widow asked conductor Joseph Eybler to undertake the work, but he was unable to measure up to the task at hand. Modern scholars believe that a far larger part of the Requiem is original Mozart than was originally believed. The Requiem and Kyrie, most of the Dies irae, Tuba Mirum, Rex tremendae, Recordare, Confutatis, Domine Jesu and the first eight bars of the Lacrymosa survive in Mozart's own hand. It would seem that Süssmayr composed only the central section of the Benedictus and the Hosanna, and perhaps the first half of the Agnus dei.
Mozart's entire oeuvre is a kind of process of synthesis. In his work all the characteristics of German, Italian and French music unite. In the last period of his life, he added to this "spatial" synthesis a "temporal" one. In all these works, including the Magic Flute and above all the Requiem, he manages to integrate the baroque practise of independent voices and counterpoint with his own classical style built around melody and thematic contrasts. Needless to say, the end result is miraculously complete and beautiful.
The Requiem also gave Mozart room for exploring another kind of antithesis. Mozart was a profoundly dramatic composer, not just in his stage works but even in his most abstract instrumental pieces. His mature church music is largely theatre music without a stage, and this is also reflected in his treatment of the Latin text. Although he paid great respect to the liturgical demands and rules, the Requiem is as much music drama as church music. Just think of the depiction of the final judgement, or else the evocation of the happiness of the next world. This drama even plays itself out within individual movements. It is truly a masterly synthesis, and from its very first bars, with it questions of life and death, addresses people of all eras. For this reason, it is one of the great compositions of music and art.
Winner of the Silver Medal at the 1986 International Tchaikovsky Competition while still a student at the Moscow Conservatory, Suren Bagratuni has gone to a distinguished international career as a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. In addition to performing throughout the former Soviet Union, he has toured worldwide earning enthusiastic praise in both traditional and contemporary repertoire.
Born in Yerevan, Armenia, Mr. Bagratuni began his musical education there at the age of seven. After winning several national and international competitions he continued his studies at the Moscow Conservatory and later in the United States, at the New England Conservatory of Music.
His teachers include such legendary cellists as Daniel Shafran, Natalia Shakhovskaya and Laurence Lesser.
Suren Bagratuni began performing at age ten, and by age fourteen appeared as a concerto soloist performing Saint-Saens' Concerto with Armenian State Radio Orchestra. Since that time he has performed with all the major orchestras in the former Soviet Union, including the Moscow Philharmonic (under the direction of Valery Gergiev), and has also appeared with the Boston Pops, the Weimar Staatskapelle, Stuttgarter Kammerorchester to name a few.
His solo appearances have included recitals from Moscow, St.Petersburg, European towns, to Johannesburg, Carnegie Hall's Weill recital hall, Jordan hall in Boston. A performance there of the Shostakovich d minor Sonata prompted the Boston Globe to call it "one of the best performances of the year".
Suren Bagratuni won critical acclaim for his CD releases.
In addition to his solo activities, Mr. Bagratuni is a member of the Nobilis; Artistic director of the Cello Plus music festival and conducts master classes Worldwide.
Suren Bagratuni currently is Artist-Teacher and Professor of cello at Michigan State University College of Music. His students occupy teaching positions in major universities and perform in orchestras throughout the U.S. and abroad. www.surenbagratuni.com
Rita Rácz received her Bachelor degree at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Szeged in 2006. She studied singing with Istvan Andrejcsik. She received her Masters degree at Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest in 2008, where she was taught by Eva Marton, Balazs Kovalik and Peter Oberfrank. She has been a member of the Hungarian State Opera since 2008.
Judit Németh completed her initial musical studies for piano and singing in Miskolc. In 1981 she was accepted by the Franz Liszt Music College where she graduated in 1986 as a teacher and in 1988 as an opera singer. Her teacher was professor Éva Kurucz. Since 1990 she has studied with Ilona Adorján. Of her many records, her contribution to the rendition of Handel's St John Passion in 1988 help it win the "Record of the Year" award. She was awarded a scholarship by the Philharmonia Organisation for four years, and was able to work with a host of distinguished conductors. She worked with Lamberto Gardelli, Helmut Rilling, Doráti Antal, Nicholas MacGegan and Kobayashi Ken-Ichiro. She won scholarships to study at the Stuttgard Bach Academy and the Vienna Academy. In 1989 a the Barcelona Vinas International Singing Competition, she won the special Barcelona City prize. Since 1990 she has been a member of the Hungarian State Opera.
In the summer of 2002, she enjoyed an immense success as Waltraute in Göterdammerung at Bayreuth. In 2003, she returned to Bayreuth to give her first performance of Ortrud from Lohengrin. Since 1987 she has taught at the Győr Music College. Her repertoire features mezzo-soprano roles from Baroque, Classical and Romantic oratorios as well as song and operatic roles.
Adorjan Pataki was born in Târnăveni, Romania. He started to study music in Theological Highschool until 1999, then studied canto at “Gherorghe Dima” Music Academy in Cluj with Marius
Vlad. He also studied with other teachers, like Carmelo Corrado Caruso in Milan and Viorica Cortez in Paris.
Since October 2005 he is soloist of the Hungarian Opera in Cluj- Napoca. Also he is guest tenor at Arad, Satu Mare, Oradea, Cluj-Napoca, Târgu Mures, Sibiu, Brasov, Craiova, Vâlcea, Iasi, Botosani
Philarmonic Orchestras, Romanian Radio Chamber Orchestra, Romania National Opera Timisoara, Romanian National Opera Cluj-Napoca, Hungarian National Opera Budapest.
In 2007 he sang the role of Alfredo from “La traviata” by G. Verdi in Ossiek, Croatia for the 100 years jubilee of the opera. Also he sang in various tournaments in Holland, Germany,
He is permanently invited to the “Bartók +” Opera Festival in Miskolc, Hungary. Prizes:
2006 – International “Traian Grozăvescu” Singing Contest Lugoj,
Romania – Special prize of the Romanian Musical Performing
2009 – International “Ionel Perlea” Lied Contest Slobozia,
Romania – Special prize for the best chamber music
2010 - IX. International Operetta Singing Competition of Franz
Lehar – Special Prize and Duna Television Prize.
Péter Cser completed his studies at the vocal faculty of the Franz Liszt Music College and then graduated from the lieder, oratorio and opera faculty of the Graz College of Music and the Performing Arts. His teachers were Júlia Biklfalvy, Zsolt Bende, Ks. Lilian Sukis, Christian Pöppelreiter and Gerhard Zeller. Between 1993 and 1997 he was a guest soloist at the Graz Opera House. He joined the Miskolc National Theatre in 1996 and the Debrecen Csokonai Theatre in 1999. As a bass soloist, he has performed all over Europe as well as in the United States and Japan. He is a welcome guest at distinguished festivals from Salzburg to Paris, from Lucerne to Berlin. He has contributed to many radio and CD recordings for firms such as ORF, Radioton, Hungaroton, EMI and Naxos.