César Franck, a Belgian-born 19th-century Romantic composer and organist who worked in France, focused on the usual instrumental genres: symphony, symphonic poem, sonata, variations, chamber music and oratorio. Among his best-known works is the Symphonic Variations for piano and orchestra. Although it is called a variations, it is in fact a peculiar and intriguing three-movement concerto, in which the concord between the piano and the orchestra is flawless as they both are equal. Here the piano is not an exclusively soloist, domineering instrument, but is masterfully woven into the overall fabric of the score. In this opus the most subtle nuances alternate complementing one another: longing, intensity, mystery, elation, and the interplay of dynamic range. The work is dedicated to the French pianist Louis Diémer, who performed the piano part at the premiere on 1 May 1886, conducted by the composer himself.
Andrius Žlabys, one of the most renowned contemporary Lithuanian pianists, performs Franck’s Symphonic Variations with the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maestro Modestas Pitrėnas.
The pianist’s performance is followed by three memorable encores – J.S. Bach’s Sarabande from the Second French Suite, C. Franck’s Prelude in B minor from the Prelude, Fugue and Variations for organ, which Andrius Žlabys performs as a four-hand tandem with the founder and artistic director of the Vilnius Piano Music Festival, pianist Mūza Rubackytė. This unexpected duo is joined by cellist Onutė Švabauskaitė, with whom the musicians perform the delicate Le cygne (The Swan) by C. Saint-Saëns.
ORCHESTRA: LITHUANIAN NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
CONDUCTOR: MODESTAS PITRĖNAS
PIANO: ANDRIUS ŽLABYS