As part of my bid to explore more classical music, I attended a couple of events at the Barbican. Admittedly one of these was partly to experience a concert within St Giles Church, Cripplegate, which is within the Barbican complex.
BBC Singers at Six: Shostakovich, Stalin and Soviet Russia saw the BBC Singers perform some choral works by a number of Russian singers. I’m not remotely religious but I do love a bit of choral singing; it’s impressive and unearthly and this church is the perfect setting, although I was slightly distracted by what I think was the sound of a rattling tea urn.
This short concert was a precursor to the evening’s programme in the Barbican Hall. This was my first visit to the Hall and I was impressed by the openness and the colours of the chairs – a bit of a difference from the usual repetitive upholstery you get in places like this.
The concert by the BBC Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Sakari Onamo and featured Leila Josefowicz on violin. The programme was as follows:
Sibelius Pohjola’s Daughter
Esa-Pekka Salonen Violin Concerto (UK premiere)
Shostakovich Symphony No 5 in D minor
The first piece was completely unfamiliar to me – I’d never heard of the composer or the music, but I really enjoyed it and would listen again. The second was also impressive. The third was the reason I’d booked for the concert: I am interested in anything Russian, and am interested in the history behind Shostakovich’s music in particular; he composed music during a particularly turbulent time in Russian history and it’s fascinating to think about how his work was viewed at the time.