Dreams and dances by Dohnányi and Shostakovich, with a detour to Finland for a tango lesson.
Ernst von Dohnányi’s serenade is a dream of fin-de-siecle Vienna, yearningly Romantic yet spare. In the Classical tradition, this serenade begins with a march, but with hints of the exotic sounds of his native Hungary. The soaring melody of the Romanza seems like a serenade in the truest sense – something to be sung at night, outdoors, with a cocktail in hand!
Shostakovich’s uneasy pieces for string octet look back to Bach with a solemn, sinewy prelude – an 18th-century ceremony in modern dress. Shostakovich’s scherzo is the dark antithesis of elfin dreaminess – this is all popping sparks, sinuous lines and demonic intensity.
The tango has been Finland’s favourite dance for more than a century, so a Finnish Tango is not as outlandish as it seems.