Grieg is beloved for his lyricism which derives from folk tunes and the Romantic tradition to which he belongs, and the striking, opening gesture of the Piano Concerto is perhaps one of the most recognisable in all of classical music. Based upon descending seconds and thirds, it is but one sign of how Norwegian music was making its impact upon his emerging style. It continues with many attractive themes, a thrilling cadenza and much dazzling originality.
The master of orchestration, Rimsky-Korsakov doesn’t disappoint with this energetic showpiece of a suite in which his musical magician’s wand busily showers spells of sparkling sound. An enchanted world is created, icy and cold, soon bursting with birdsong and finishing with the popular Dance of the Tumblers.
Tchaikovsky’s melodic prowess is shown to the full in two of his most popular works. His polonaise is probably the greatest concert example of this dance ever written. Generally stately, this one has flair, with large orchestral gestures and the kind of catchy tune that sticks in the mind for ages. His concise mini-symphony of an overture balances the hatred between the Montagues and Capulets and the passion of the young Romeo and Juliet in a work of emotional intensity and heart-breaking beauty.