"Estonian music" is mostly associated by music lovers with just the works of the contemporary Arva Pärt and the choral music characteristic of this country. Many find it difficult to point out the earlier composers who shaped the musical life of Estonia in the 20th century.
One of the first formally educated Estonian artists, and also the first concert pianist from this country, was Artur Lemba, born in 1885 in Tallinn. He is also the first Estonian who undertook work in the opera genre (in 1905 he wrote the opera "Sabina") and symphonic (in 1908 he composed Symphony in C sharp minor, dedicated to Alexander Glazunov.). Lemba took piano lessons from his elder brother Theodore and following his example began studies at the Conservatory in St. Petersburg in piano, composition and theory of music. He graduated in 1908 with a flourish, winning a gold medal for piano and a special award from Anton Rubinstein, and a silver medal for composition.
After completing his studies, Lemba taught for 12 years at the Petersburg Conservatory, to return to his homeland in the 1920s where he continued his piano career, and also dealt with pedagogical activity and music criticism. The composer left behind considerable achievements: 5 operas, many symphonic compositions including 2 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, and numerous chamber and solo works. Piano Concerto No. 1 in G major Op. 2 comes from the youthful period of Lemba's work in 1910. Consisting of 3 movements with a traditional layout, it is maintained in romantic aesthetics, clearly referring to the style of the masters, including Glazunov. The concert will be performed by Lemba’s compatriot, pianist Mihkel Poll, and the orchestra will be conducted by Russian Mikhail Agrest.
Written at the same time as Lemba's concert (1909-1911), Symphony No. 2 in B flat major Op. 19 by Karol Szymanowski, despite belonging to the early stages of the Polish composer's work, represents a completely different style. The composition consists atypically of only two movements. The first of them remains a classic sonata allegro, the second in the form of variations combines three successive links of a traditional symphony - it begins with a free fragment, develops the next dance variations into a kind of scherzo to end up in a lively finale. Although the tonality of this symphony is usually given in B flat major, the young composer, in his increasingly bold harmonic quest, goes far away from the traditional tonality in favor of a complex chromatics, close to the Impressionists.
Lemba | Szymanowski
Symphony HallFilharmonia im. Mieczysława Karłowicza w Szczecinie
ul. Małopolska 48