RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra: Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky with Joshua Weilerstein

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra: Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky with Joshua Weilerstein

Friday, 1 October 2021, 7.30pm

Music to stir hearts and minds that unites East and West as a neglected American master and two Russian titans promise an evening of high emotion.

Admired for his ‘intense, eloquently moving and spectacularly knife-edge’ conducting (Classical Source), Joshua Weilerstein is joined by the ‘immaculate technique’ (The Arts Desk) of Denis Kozhukhin for Rachmaninov’s robustly romantic Third Piano Concerto.

Memorably featured in the acclaimed 1997 film Shine about pianist David Helfgott’s triumph over adversity, Rachmaninov’s soaring concerto is a technical high-wire act for the soloist that rewards bravado with irresistible bravura brilliance. The orchestra is required to be no less virtuosic and agile, both deliriously pirouetting together in a blazing, blistering finale.

Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony is a slowly unfurling whirlwind of emotions. A veritable tempest of the heart. An appropriately large-scale creation for a piece preoccupied by fate, it is driven along by a dramatic recurring main theme and has a meltingly poignant horn melody at its heart. Composed at a time of personal turmoil, out of Tchaikovsky’s suffering comes a compelling work of dramatic contrasts, shocking climaxes, gripping emotions and a reassuringly happy ending as love and hope triumphantly trump tragedy.

Opening the concert is the prolific and pioneering African-American composer William Grant Still’s sweetly lyrical Mother and Child. Re-working a movement from his 1943 Suite for Violin and Piano, it is music of touching sincerity and beguiling tenderness.

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Published by The Journal of Music on 27 September 2021

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