The Russian conductor Valery Gergiev is serving up works from his own country. The composer–pianist Serge Rachmaninoff performed the premiere of his own Third Piano Concerto, and played the work with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in four Dutch cities. At that time, he remarked, ‘The musicians thought it was beautiful, but critics and audiences didn’t.’ It would eventually be the pianist Vladimir Horowitz who would change audiences’ minds about the work, and today Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto is now an undisputed staple of the standard repertoire. Because of its difficulty, pianists consider it a daunting masterpiece. Making his first appearance with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the young Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov performs it here under the direction of Valery Gergiev.
The second half of the programme features an equally compelling work of late Russian Romanticism – Skryabin’s Symphony No. 3. According to Skryabin’s own programme notes for the premiere, the ‘divine poem’ depicts the growth of the human spirit towards complete freedom and oneness with the universe. No mean programme!