Ørjan Matre (born 1979)
Lyric Pieces, after Grieg (exerpts)

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953):
Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 16

Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840-1893):
Symphony No. 5, Op. 64


Andris Poga, conductor
Behzod Abduraimov, piano
Emily Davis, concertpaster


Ciudad de Cultura y Saberes

“Lyric Pieces” by Ørjan Matre is a musical reflection on Grieg’s beloved piano pieces. The work is a kind of hybrid between arrangement, sophisticated orchestration, commentary composition, and free fantasy, with surprising and fresh twists. The orchestral sound is rich and brilliant, and fragments of the old pieces seep through, insisting on their enduring strength. Nevertheless, this is by no means an orchestration of Grieg. Matre relates to Grieg as a peripheral memory – something abstract, yet close and dear. Respectfully and treated with love. “Lyric Pieces” form a harmonious and beautiful universe that, through associative detours to both Hollywood, Disney, and contemporary elements, makes both modern orchestral music and the classical heritage relevant to a broader audience. The music is elegant and assured, with a distinct touch of Matre himself even though Grieg is visiting. “Lyric Pieces” was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize in 2020.

Sergei Prokofiev wrote three piano concertos, with No. 3 being the most well-known and performed. No. 2 in G minor (1913, revised 1923) caused a scandal at its premiere; several people left the hall due to the dissonances in the harmony, but the composer enjoyed this role. The concerto includes many harmonic jolts and shocks. Prokofiev’s distinctive motor skills in the second movement can make it difficult for listeners to sit still.

As the final piece of the evening, we hear Pyotr Tchaikovsky with Symphony No. 5 in E minor. The work can be performed sentimentally, but when this is avoided, it is easy to be moved by the alternation between gloomy melancholy, delicate lyricism, and wild outbursts of temperament. The introduction to the first movement is a somber funeral march, sung by clarinets with deep tones and dark timbre in the strings. The second movement is particularly emotional, but if played to the extremes, it’s hard not to get caught up in the melancholic progression. In the scherzo, Tchaikovsky reveals himself as the outstanding orchestrator he could be. The final movement is hectic, with ascents towards the grandiose. The storm towards the end expresses great optimism with its impact.