Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto begins with a brief murmuring from the orchestra and a simplest of introductions of the main theme from the piano, effectively easing us on to a roller-coaster of themes. It is impossible to amply describe the lyricism, fireworks and sheer virtuosity that pianist, orchestra and listeners experience in this most expansive, brilliant and romantic work.
Consisting of “separate, unconnected episodes and pictures” Scheherazade is based on a collection of Oriental stories of uncertain origin and history, The Arabian Nights. The stories of Aladdin, Sinbad and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves have passed into folk legend in the West. It is a triumph of imagination over experience; a feast of sumptuous colours and brilliant instrumental effect by the man who literally wrote the book on orchestration. It quickly became a favourite Romantic showpiece and a landmark in the history of descriptive music.