Göteborgs Konserthus Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15 and a new Marimba Concerto

Playfully passionate with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, conductor Andris Poga and marimba soloist Mika Takehara.

Concert length: 2 h incl. intermission Scene: Stora salen
370-530 SEK Student 185-265 SEK

Shostakovich’s Fifteenth Symphony was also his last. The music is both tricky and playful and is full of quotations from Rossini and Wagner as well as his own earlier works. Although Shostakovich was very sick when he composed this symphony, he was determined to have fun with it. In the lively first movement we hear, among other things, the well known William Tell Overture from Rossini’s opera, but a skewed and unpredictable world also lurks beneath the surface.

Shostakovich’s piece was written in what was then Russia and the Soviet Union, marked by anything but freedom of opinion, and contemporary research indicates that he was critical of his own contemporary oppression and used his artistry as an expression of this, although the rulers then chose a different interpretation. Experiencing this music now, with that knowledge, can add an additional dimension beyond the purely musical.

In this evening’s concert, Shostakovich’s symphony has company in the form of the premiere of Johannes Jansson’s Marimba Concerto. The composer lived in southern India for several years, a period that came to mean a lot to him, both as a person and as an artist. His music is sometimes filled with unbridled power and condensed energy, but it is also incredibly beautiful. He describes the Marimba Concerto being premiered this evening as ”a poetic journey”. Mika Takehara is the soloist who, for the first time ever, takes her place at the marimba, together with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, to play this piece of music for an audience. A world premiere!

The evening commences with dynamic Musica serena for string orchestra by Latvian composer Peteris Vasks. This piece moves from softly shimmering violin overtones via a majestic and powerful central part, to gradually regain its quiet harmonic calm.


Get to know the classical pieces.

Get to know Mika Takehara.

Introduction to the concert

Take a seat in the Great Hall one hour before the concert begins and learn more about the music you will soon experience! You will get the stories behind the music, knowledge of the composers and own reflections about the classical pieces. The introduction last for about 30 minutes, it is free and free seating in the hall. Warm welcome!


Peteris Vasks (f 1946) Musica Serena Latvian Peteris Vask's music is often strongly personal and full of melancholy and suffering, but also of faith and hope. His violin concerto Distant Light has been named the most important Latvian piece of music of the 1990s, which include the early years of independence. The triptych “Musica” contains three works spread over his career; Musica Dolorosa (1983), Musica Appassionata (2001) and Musica Serena (2015). The first is both the most personal and political. Composed after the death of Vask's sister, it became a lament for the Latvian people, before independence. The latest, Musica Serena, is written as a bright, singing tribute to the Finnish conductor Juha Kangas, Vask's close friend and collaborator, in connection with Kanga's 70th birthday. The ten-minute piece spans a wide dynamic range, building from softly shimmering violin overtones in andante cantabile to a central fortissimo in maestoso, which gradually regains its composure and leads back to the work's opening harmonic notes.

JOHANNES JANSSON (f 1950) MARIMBAKONSERT - Commissioned by Gothenburg Symphony "After Peace Symphony, I had said my piece for a while after a long creative journey. The only source of inspiration that endured was a marimba concert by Mika Takehara, with whom I have collaborated in various projects since 2006. The marimba's cross-border sound world evokes associations beyond the brief era of industrialism. New views are opened. The marimba moves in the concert between independent performances and as part of the orchestral sound, through passes towards unsuspected points of view. After my violin concerto for the Gothenburg Symphony in 2010, it is a great joy to be back with a not entirely unrelated new solo concerto." -Johannes Jansson Much of Jansson's music is marked by impressions from India, where he once lived, in terms of themes and moods. It is about a spiritual community, a pursuit of sincerity within an artistic framework, rather than direct musical influence. Among other things, his expressive string quartets testify to how he succeeds in formulating a personal tonal language within a classical framework. The sensibility is repeated even in larger and more elaborate contexts, such as in the piano concerto "Corpo in luce" (1987) or in "Guitar Concerto" (1996). One should also mention the huge "Hymn to the mystic fire" (2004), which, with its incredible breadth of expression, forms a kind of summary of the many sides of Jansson's artistry: tender lyrical qualities - sometimes in a quiet Eastern colored setting - swing here as well over to skinless exuberance in rare dramatic, almost violent orchestral climaxes. Johannes Jansson’s Peace Symphony was premiered with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2018.

Intermission 25 min

DMITRI SHOSTAKOVITCH (1906-1975) SYMPHONY No. 15 Allegretto Adagio. Largo. Adagio Allegretto Adagio. Allegretto. Adagio. Allegretto Shostakovich's last symphony is one of the rare orchestral works from his last years. It was first performed by his son Maxim Shostakovich in January 1972 and is in many respects a unique work. It was then almost 50 years since he initiated his first, ingenious symphony. But in many ways the two symphonies are close to each other: the virtuosic orchestral treatment, the flight, the boldness of the ideas, the unexpected associations with allusions to their own and others' works. Most surprising is probably the clear quote from Rossini's Wilhelm Tell overture that appears in the first movement. Incidentally, there is also a twelve-tone series – yes, it recurs in all the movements. The second movement is a mourning march-like lament that contrasts with the scherzo. The predominantly slow finale offers several famous quotations, including the death motif from the second act of Wagner's Valkyrie. In the drums you hear rhythms from his own Leningrad Symphony. The composer has made the following statement: "It is a great shame that the composers seem to be passing Chekhov over. One of my works is based on motifs by Chekhov, the fifteenth symphony. It is not a preliminary study to The Black Monk, but variations on a theme. Much in the fifteenth relates to The Black Monk, although it is a completely independent piece.” The Black Monk is a short story by Chekhov that Shostakovich had long-standing plans to write an opera about - in the end the plans resulted in this symphony instead.


The Gothenburg Symphony, called "one of the world's most formidable orchestras" by the Guardian, has toured the USA, Europe, Japan and the Far East and performed at major music centres and festivals throughout the world. Chief conductor is Santtu-Matias Rouvali who started his tenure in 2017. Barbara Hannigan and Christoph Eschenbach are principal guest conductors since 2019. Already at the orchestra's very first years, the great Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar was appointed principal conductor, contributing strongly to the Nordic profile of the orchestra by inviting his colleagues Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius to conduct their own works. Subsequent holders of the post include Sergiu Comissiona, Sixten Ehrling and Charles Dutoit. During Neeme Järvi's tenure (1982-2004), the orchestra became a major international force. In 1997 it was appointed the National Orchestra of Sweden. During his celebrated tenure as music director (2007-2012), Gustavo Dudamel took the Orchestra to major music centres and festivals in Europe, making acclaimed appearances at BBC Proms and Vienna Musikverein. The list of prominent guest conductors has included Wilhelm Furtwängler, Pierre Monteux, Herbert von Karajan, Myung-Whun Chung, Herbert Blomstedt and Sir Simon Rattle. The orchestra also runs extensive concert projects for children, and regularly releases digital live concerts free on gsoplay.se. The orchestra has been involved in many prestigious recording projects, the latest one the complete Sibelius Symphonies with Santtu-Matias Rouvali for Alpha Classics. Earlier, the orchestra has issued over 100 recordings on BIS, Deutsche Grammophon, Chandos, Farao Classics and several other labels. The Gothenburg Symphony is owned by the Region Västra Götaland.

The Latvian conductor Andris Poga has been chief conductor of the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra since 2021. He has also been the chief conductor of the Latvian National Orchestra since 2013. He has conducted leading orchestras in Germany, France, Italy and Japan. He has also been invited back to orchestras such as the NHK Orchestra in Tokyo, the Elbe Philharmonic in Hamburg, the Radio Orchestra in Cologne, the Munich Philharmonic, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Dresden Philharmonic, the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig and the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich. Andris Poga, born in 1980, had his big break when in 2010 he won the Yevgeny Svetlanov competition in conducting. 2011-2014 he was assistant to Paavo Järvi and the Orchester de Paris and 2012-2014 he was assistant to the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Mika Takehara marimba

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Nr 2 2022-2023 Hallå där, Mika Takehara

När jag lyssnade på Johannes Janssons tidigare musik påminde den mig om meningen med konst, passion för livet och tillvaron som människa på denna jord.