Liadov: The Enchanted Lake
Britten: Diversions on a Theme
Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 3
Soloists: Nicholas McCarthy (piano)
Conductor: Robert Hodge
Anatoly Liadov harboured a penchant for the occult, the mysterious and the downright spooky. Most of his late tone poems were based on Russian folk tales (Baba Yaga for example) but ‘The Enchanted Lake’ is an exception; it arose solely from his imagination. He loved this piece more than any other of his compositions, and those who know it are indeed enchanted by the delicate scoring and immaculate craftsmanship, all packaged into a magical six minutes.
Benjamin Britten’s ‘Diversions’ were composed for the one-armed pianist, Paul Wittgenstein and will be performed in this concert by another one-armed pianist, Nicholas McCarthy, who has established an enthusiastic following of admirers. Wittgenstein was notoriously quarrelsome and pernickety. He not only failed to perform works he had commissioned, including those by Serge Prokofiev and Paul Hindemith, he would not allow anyone else to play them. That is why these ‘Diversions’ were and still are rarely performed. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear a work that the exceptionally fastidious Wittgenstein actually blessed with his approval!
Sergei Rachmaninov’s Third Symphony also gained the approbation of an important person: Rachmaninov himself. He was well pleased with it and couldn’t understand why the American première provoked a lukewarm reaction. We may feel similarly surprised because the symphony is now a firm favourite within the standard orchestral repertoire.