Shostakovich: Festive Overture
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto no.1
Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances
Piano: Florian Mitrea
Conductor: Robert Hodge
If you like famous classics, this is the concert for you. Shostakovich was asked to write a short piece at short notice and he obliged readily, producing the completed score three days later. His Festive Overture is festive indeed, full of pace and bubble. The music almost smiles at you and all too soon disappears like the Cheshire cat.
Still Russian, but at the heavier end of the emotional spectrum is the Piano Concerto in B flat minor by Tchaikovsky. It’s ranked number six in the world for popularity among piano concertos, which comes as no surprise given its abundance of memorable melodies and dramatic contrasts. The soloist will be the young Romanian pianist, Florian Mitrea who was selected by Making Music as one of the six Philip and Dorothy Green Young Artists for 2017-19. Florian has won numerous awards and is now building a significant career working with leading orchestras across Europe.
We stay in Russia for Sergei Rachmaninov’s ‘Symphonic Dances’, his last composition, completed in 1941. It’s full of interest and nostalgia, including quotations from earlier works and references to Russian liturgical chant, overall, a kind of summary of his creative life. It ranges between the richly romantic and an almost Stravinsky-like spikiness that adds spice to the mix. It’s not a ballet, notwithstanding its title, but some choreographers have had a shot at staging it.