Venue Details: Lighthouse
- Prokofiev : Symphony No.3
- Rachmaninov : Piano Concerto No.4
- Ravel : La Valse
Prokofiev’s Third Symphony is a reworking of material from his opera The Fiery Angel. Depressed by his failure to get the opera staged, Prokofiev rightly thought the material too good to waste. It is a gloriously dark work, beginning with a brash sense of alarm (marked by lumbering chords which set a Soviet march rhythm) before becoming quieter, more operatic in nature. Full of clashing harmonies and Prokofiev’s genius for orchestral colour, it is a piece that should be much better known.
Described by Rachmaninov himself as “less like a concerto for piano and more like a concerto for piano and orchestra”, the Fourth, although less performed than its predecessors, is still quintessentially Rachmaninov with its surging themes and formidable solo writing.
Written in 1919 after the ravages of the Great War, rather than a sunny homage to the 19th-century Viennese waltz, La Valse is more a savage “danse macabre”. With keen insight, astonishing imagination and deadly aim, Ravel mimics and parodies every aspect of the waltz idiom. As the work progresses, the waltz becomes more exaggerated and distorted, riddled with dissonance, fragmented and unstable. When the end comes, it is noisy and violent - all of the work’s accumulated tension explodes in a final horrific din.