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On September 23, 2020, at the beginning of a season beset by nearly unprecedented complications, Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra were able to come together to ensure that LSO St Luke’s would resound with glorious music nonetheless. The former Anglican church, restored in 2003 to welcome the LSO community, is a perfectly intimate venue for a spectacular evening that includes Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and a lesser-heard piano masterpiece performed by the acclaimed Peter Donohoe! (See the rest of the program here.)
This portion begins with the final four of eight Slavonic Dances, Op. 46, the set of marvelously effervescent, Bohemian folk-inspired pieces that helped launch the Czech master to international renown and establish his reputation as a major figure in music. It concludes with the Piano Concerto by 20th-century English composer Sir Michael Tippett, an ornately lyrical and rhythmically complex work that has seen a critical reevaluation in recent decades, championed by nonconformist artists like Peter Donohoe. The English virtuoso performs it brilliantly here some 46 years after his first concert with Rattle—as the timpanist in 19-year-old Rattle’s first-ever performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring!