Fabio Luisi conducts Rachmaninov and Nielsen — With Lise de la Salle

Danish National Symphony Orchestra

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Lise de la Salle — Pianist

Danish National Symphony Orchestra

Fabio Luisi — Conductor

Program notes

Step off the beaten path with Maestro Fabio Luisi and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra in this unique program that spotlights three lesser-known twentieth-century gems! Works by Danish composer Carl Nielsen bookend Lise de la Salle’s spectacular rendition of Rachmaninov’s Fourth (and final) Piano Concerto, a late work suffused with modern flourishes.

Years after writing his perennially popular Second and Third Piano Concertos, Rachmaninov fled the turmoil of the Russian Revolution and settled in New York. His Piano Concerto No. 4, composed largely in this new American milieu, is animated by jazzy undertones and bold chromaticism almost suggestive of Gershwin, but we still hear the aching nostalgia that characterizes much of Rachmaninov’s work. De la Salle navigates virtuosic passages with astonishing ease and expertly evokes the great Russian's romantic pathos.

In honor of the 150th anniversary of Nielsen’s birth, the concert features his final masterpiece Commotio (1931), written in the style of a Baroque toccata with alternating fantasy and fugue sections. His enigmatic Sixth Symphony, dubbed the Sinfonia semplice (Simple Symphony—a misnomer, to be sure), caps the evening, demonstrating the Dane’s adventurous spirit with shifting tonality, an unconventional structure, and a winning blend of humor and profundity.

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