The Rock was Rachmaninov’s first published orchestral work. Inspired by a Chekhov short story its three movements follow the sequence of Midday, Twilight, Midnight; an allegory for life’s journey which is echoed in what was to be his final work, the Symphonic Dances. The music suggests a new direction that he might have pursued had fate granted him more time. In contrast to the lush harmonies and sweeping melodic lines that characterise his earlier style, it offers a more modern sound of leaner textures, sharper harmonies and more concise motifs, creating a wondrous kaleidoscope of instrumental colours before finally exploding with visceral energy. Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto is an exuberant and passionate work filled with uninhibited virtuosity. The dramatic first movement, with its altogether exceptional opening, is forged from the menacing-sounding Ukrainian folk tune titled Song of the Blind and is filled with extensive technical passages made up of lush chord sequences and scales. The finale is also based on a folk tune – a combination of hymn-like solemnity and more technical wizardry.

Works and composers

Rachmaninov The Rock
Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1
Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances

Supported by

Simon & Anna Coombs