Great artists give free concerts at New England Conservatory—simply because they teach here.
Collaborative pianist Damien Francoeur-Krzyzek has invited fellow faculty to join him in this program of death-tinged songs and chamber music by Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, and Sviridov.
Baritone Michael Meraw gives Boston audiences a rare glimpse of composer Georgi Sviridov (1915–1998), a student of Shostakovich who is beloved in Russia for his vocal works but seldom performed here. Sviridov spent the last two decades of his life completing Petersburg: a vocal poem, written for Dmitri Hvorostovsky using texts by Alexander Blok. When Hvorostovsky introduced this cycle in New York shortly after Sviridov's death, the New York Times called it "stunningly powerful."
Violinist Nicholas Kitchen and cellist Yeesun Kim—one-half of the Borromeo String Quartet—fill out the ensemble for Sergei Rachmaninoff's Trio Elégiaque No. 1 in G Minor. With a closing funeral march similar to Tchaikovsky's elegy to Nikolai Rubinstein, Rachmininoff wrote this while Tchaikovsky was still alive, and it was only later that he wrote a second trio as an elegy to his predecessor.
Kitchen also joins Francoeur-Krzyzek for Dimitri Shostakovich's Sonata for Violin and Piano, a work written in the late 1960s, when the composer had begun to reflect on mortality using an austere musical vocabulary that drew on 12-tone methods. It became an elegy of sorts a few years later when it was performed alongside Shostakovich's final sonata, for viola, at a concert that he had organized just before his death, but that he did not live to hear.