Both were heard for the first time within about a year of each other, although they were
years in the making, and both are endlessly popular with audiences, for their sweeping
melodies and big, bold orchestration.
The piano concerto, which begins this all-Rachmaninov concert, enjoyed unexpected
renewed fame when, in the 1996 film Shine, it was played by the troubled main character,
a pianist pushed by his father. The actor Geoffrey Rush who played the real-life pianist
David Helfgott, whose story Shine tells, mastered the piece to perform it on camera.
With its searching opening melody, from its opening bars, through elaborate development
to its breakneck closing bars, it is one of the most compelling pieces in the repertoire, and
distinctively Russian in its plaintive and tumultuous passion.
The Symphony No 2, coming 10 years after the catastrophic First, also contains
references to Rachmaninov’s homeland, never far from his thoughts as he worked
undisturbed in Dresden, and is at times reminiscent of the composer’s countryman
Tchaikovsky. Its galloping second movement is particularly exhilarating, and the third
movement melts the heart.
The Proms’ core orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Thomas
Dausgaard. The Latvian Radio Choir sings the Russian orthodox chant that is woven into
the last movement of the symphony, and tonight’s soloist is the Ukrainian-born Australian
pianist, Alexander Gavrylyuk.
The sonorous Latvian Radio Choir returns to the Royal Albert Hall later this same evening
for a late night performance of Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil, Vespers (Prom 38, 9.45PM-
11PM). This profound and passionate religious work takes full advantage of the stirring
voices of the choir, and conjures up the expectation and triumph of a night spent waiting
for the Resurrection.
Before its first performance in 1915, the conductor said: ‘Where on earth are we to find
such basses? They are as rare as asparagus at Christmas!’ Happily, the Latvian Radio Choir has its own, rich source.
|What||Prom 37: Rachmaninov, Royal Albert Hall|
|Where||Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP | MAP|
|Nearest tube||South Kensington (underground)|
On 13 Aug 17, 6:00 PM – 8:45 PM
|Price||£ 6 - £40|