István Várdai, cello / Hungary
Kristaps Bergs, cello
Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra
Conductor Modestas Pitrėnas
Gala concert of the Cello Cēsis Festival is remarkable for two things: the first visit to Latvia by the Hungarian cellist István Várdai, who will offer his interpretation of Cello Concerto by his countryman, the cellist and composer András Mihály, and the world premiere of Arturs Maskats’ Cello Concerto No. 2, written for the Latvian cellist Kristaps Bergs on commission from the festival.
István Várdai’s concert repertoire covers a vast musical spectrum but a special place in his affections is held by chamber music. Winner of many prestigious international cello competitions, including the International Tchaikovsky Competition (2007) and the ARD International Music Competition in Munich (2014), the cellist now performs with great musicians like Gidon Kremer, András Schiff, Yuri Bashmet, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and Misha Maisky on the stages of the greatest European concert halls.
The extensive concert repertoire of István Várdai encompasses many masterpieces of the 20th-century music. In Cēsis we will listen to his take on the Hungarian composer András Mihály’s Cello Concerto. Alongside three symphonies and his opera ‘Together and Alone’, the 1963 Concerto for Cello and Orchestra holds a significant place in the composer’s musical legacy. The piece, grand in scale and scope, is a vivid reflection of the unique sound of the 20th-century contemporary Hungarian music, strongly coloured by folk traditions, motifs and elements. And who could reveal it in a more profound and natural way than a fellow Hungarian musician? Alongside Mihály’s Cello Concerto, István Várdai’s repertoire includes opuses by other Hungarian composers, thus acquainting global concert audiences with the wealth of Hungarian music.
The programme will continue with a special experience for the festival audience ‒ a performance of Arturs Maskats’ Cello Concerto No. 2, written on commission from the cello Cēsis Festival. Maskats wrote his first cello concerto back in 1992, precisely 30 years ago. Thematically and mood-wise, the composer’s new concerto was inspired by William Shakespeare’s sonnets. Each stage in the development of the piece is marked by a line from these immortal poems in which Shakespeare reflects on love and the course of human life, the immutable power of Time.
It is one of the most talented Latvian cellists of the younger generation, Kristaps Bergs, who has been entrusted with the first performance of the new cello concerto; he was the initiator of the commission and worked closely with Arturs Maskats during the writing of the piece.