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Bernstein – Serenade after Plato’s Symposium
In 1954, Serge and Nathalie Koussevitzky commissioned Leonard Bernstein to write a serenade for them as part of the cultural season of the illustrious Foundation bearing their name. “Lenny”, as he was known, gladly did it; however, inspired by a dazzling (re)reading of Plato’s Symposium, his piece quickly became something more than simple entertainment; although in keeping with the stimulating and joyful atmosphere of Plato’s dialogue there is a lightness present in the piece from beginning to end.
The banquet, according to Bernstein, is lively and light. The supple and shimmering orchestration is written for a string orchestra augmented by a harp and percussion. Faithfully following the source text, the work is divided into five movements each bearing the name of a character. We will thus successively meet Phèdre and Pausanias (1st mvt), the precise rhetoricians worried about defining a moral of love, Aristophanes (2nd mvt), the comic genius known for his fantasy tales, Eryximacs (3rd mvt), a doctor with scientific concerns, Agathon (4th mvt) a sweet and harmonious poet, and finally, Socrates (5th mvt), accompanied by his beloved Alcibiade, an ironic and profound thinker. Wearing all these masks, one after the other, and playing the part of the absolute protagonist in this astonishing serenade, the violin will act as a true soloist – and this violin is also a philosopher.
Aria from suite No. 3 - BWV 1068 / J.S Bach
Concerto for violin and orchestra No. 5 in A major - K219 / W.A Mozart
Dzukian variations for solo voice, orchestra and choir / Bronius Kutavicius
Serenade after Plato’s symposium - For solo violin and chamber orchestra / Leonard Bernstein