Russian WinterThu 6 December 2018
THE GREAT HALL, UNIVERSITY OF EXETER
Antonio Méndez conductor
Alexei Volodin piano
With his Second Piano Concerto, Rachmaninov not only overcame his writer’s block, but he found a new voice as a composer – one with a perfect knack for unforgettable tunes, dazzling pianistic effects, an effortless flow of ideas, and a very suave sense of style. Despite his worries, the premiere was a major triumph and it quickly became his greatest hit and one of the most popular concertos of the 20th century. Rising out of mysterious depths, Rachmaninov quickly lets loose the first of many striking themes that litter the work. At just 28, in love and about to be married, no wonder he exhibits a youthful confidence in a mature work imbued with a sincere, heartfelt passion that continues to captivate audiences. The fresh, sweet and lightness-of-touch of Tchaikovsky’s First Symphony betrays none of the nagging self-doubt that attended its creation. He gave some descriptive titles to the first movements Reveries of a Winter Journeyand Land of Desolation, Land of Mists. Also emerging from the mists, the Prelude to Khovanshchina was described by Mussorgsky as “depicting dawn over the Moscow River, matins at cock crow, the patrol, and the taking down of the chains.” Short but very effective, it begins delicately, a beautiful tune emerging which soon grows and becomes more animated as Moscow is revealed – church domes lit by the rising sun.
Mussorgsky Khovanshchina Prelude
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2
Tchaikovsky Symphony No.1