April 1, 2018 marks the 145th anniversary of Rachmaninov's birth and the Svetlanov Symphony Orchestra, conductor Alexander Sladkovsky, and pianist Denis Matsuev are celebrating with two concerts featuring all of the composer's works for piano and orchestra. The second program includes Rachmaninov's Third and Fourth Piano Concertos and his symphonic poem The Rock!
Rachmaninov's compositions for piano and orchestra represent a pivotal chapter in the instrument's history. While contemporary critics derided his works for their old-fashioned embrace of endless melody and unbridled Romanticism—preferring more “innovative” concertos by the likes of Bartók and Prokofiev—Rachmaninov's piano concertos would go on to become some of the most beloved and most performed works of their kind.
The evening opens with the only non-piano concerto on the program: The Rock. Then Denis Matsuev takes the stage to present the Third and Fourth Piano Concertos. Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto was written in 1909 in the idyllic setting of his family's country estate and was the composer's personal favorite. The Fourth Piano Concerto was completed in 1926 but underwent a series of cuts and rewrites before Rachmaninov arrived at the 1941 version in which it is most performed today. The work's sharply defined themes draw inspiration from both contemporary modernist composers like Scriabin and from Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.
Photo: Denis Matsuev © Columbia Artists Management Inc.