The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra pays tribute to three of the greatest Russian masters who not only wrote music through a revolution,  but each in his own unique way revolutionized the musical world. Mussorgsky, Shostakovich and Rachmaninov have their own unique vision that compliments each other.  Their music can be brutally intense, sometimes shy, dark, sarcastic, angry yet mournful … yet music with flights of joy and humor … voices for their generation and the generations to come after them.


Modest Mussorgsky               Dawn on the Moscow River

Sergei Rachmaninov             Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini

                                                   soloist – Arkadi Zenziper

Dimitri Shostakovich              Symphony No 5 in D minor op 47


guest leader Carmine Lauri


Dawn on the Moscow river is the prelude to Moussorgsky’s last opera Khovanschina which was left unfinished at his death.  The work was at an advanced stage of composition, and performing versions have been produced by Rimsky-Korsakov (1886) and  Shostakovich (1960). It is based on one long simple lyrical melody in the Russian folk style, and suggests the first light of the sun as the theme is passed around the orchestral instruments, growing in confidence, until we hear it weaving around the distant solemn chiming of the bells of Moscow.

Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini is his last work for piano and orchestra written in 1931. The theme is taken from the last of the 24 Caprices for solo violin by Nicolò Paganini, which had in fact inspired many musicians besides Rachmaninoff: it was the source for études by Schumann and Liszt, for two monumental sets of solo-piano variations by Brahms, and for works by more recent composers including Witold Lutoslawski and even Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony was conceived under the most intense spotlight imaginable, With Stalin and the ruling party denouncing his previous works as  “Muddle instead of Music”. Shostakovich knew as soon as he saw the editorial that the lives of both he and his family were in grave danger. Yet under this immense pressure Shostakovich created a masterpiece, defying the imposed parameters and produced a performance at the end of which the audience burst into an ovation so passionate and stormy that it nearly eclipsed the 45 minute symphony in duration.