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 melodies. It is impossible to describe the lyricism, fireworks, and sheer virtuosity that pianist, orchestra and listeners experience in this most expansive, brilliant and romantic of works. Mussorgsky’s musical homage to his talented friend is a beautifully curated series of miniatures – some intimate, others grotesque. One of Mussorgsky’s great gifts was his ability to capture the essence of a character, mood, or scene in brief, striking musical imagery. His imagination goes far beyond the immediate visual stimulus of the paintings, which are brought into even more vivid detail through Ravel’s orchestral magic.
Watch Kirill and the BSO perform the final movement of Pictures at an Exhibition – The Great Gate of Kiev – which was recorded last year.