Rising out of mysterious depths, Rachmaninov quickly lets loose the first of many striking themes that litter his Second Piano Concerto. At just 28, in love and about to be married, no wonder he exhibits a youthful confidence in a mature work imbued with a sincere, heartfelt passion that continues to captivate audiences. More passion exudes from Borodin’s almost symphonic overture, packed with exotic, sinuous melodies and blazing fanfares depicting epic tales of Russian heroism, as does Akimenko’s luscious tone poem. Full of playful sparkle and humour, Beethoven’s almost neo-classical, yet revolutionary Eighth Symphony is a mad dash of a piece that includes a series of musical jokes culminating in a very tongue-in-cheek ending.
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