Glière’s tone poem begins with cellos and harps evoking the depths of the sea from which the Sirens’ song emerges, intertwined with the dashing theme of an unsuspecting sailor who is dragged to his doom. In La Mer the full scope of Debussy’s remarkable art is on display; conjured images of the sea, from gentle swells to the crashing of breakers on the shore. Like the sea itself, the surface of the music hints at the brooding mystery beneath – vibrating, oscillating, shimmering. Although Glière began writing his unfinished Violin Concerto shortly before his death in 1956 – it was completed and orchestrated by Lyatoshinsky – it constitutes a throwback to the lyrical, Romantic style of Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky, and is a wonderful virtuosic showpiece deserving of greater prominence. Written in 1919 after the ravages of the war, rather than a sunny homage to the 19th-century Viennese waltz, La Valse is more a savage ‘danse macabre’. With keen insight and astonishing imagination, Ravel mimics and parodies every aspect of the waltz idiom. As it progresses it becomes more exaggerated and distorted, and when the end comes, it is noisy and violent – exploding in a final, ecstatic din.
Rachmaninov First and LastRachmaninov and Tchaikovsky Wednesday 19 April, 7.30pm
The BSO is joined by conductor Gabor Kali and Marie-Ange Nguci for a concert of music by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov including his lively Symphonic Dances.Find out more