Evgeny Svetlanov conducts Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances

Legendary performances by Svetlanov — State Symphony Orchestra of the USSR

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State Symphony Orchestra of the USSR

Program notes

Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, one of his last masterpieces for orchestra, come to life with the legendary Evgeny Svetlanov at the baton.

Composed two years before his death, the Symphonic Dances have been regarded by many—including Rachmaninov himself!—to be his greatest orchestral work. As he put it, “I don’t know how it happened… it must have been my last spark.” Composed with the unique sound of the Philadelphia Orchestra under its music director Eugene Ormandy in mind, the three-movement work is filled with a fascinating mixture of different moods, sounds, and colors. The rapid, agitated Allegro (punctuated by the melancholy voice of a saxophone) gives way to a lopsided and even eerie waltz of the Andante con moto before the haunting liturgical melodies of the Lento assai: Allegro vivace.

The Evgeny Svetlanov Foundation has kindly provided this program to us as part of its celebrations of the maestro's 90th birthday.

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