Valery Gergiev conducts Ravel, Mussorgsky, and Rachmaninov — With Yuja Wang

Fondation Louis Vuitton

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Program notes

The earth-shaking Valery Gergiev / Yuja Wang duo is back on for an exceptional live concert from Paris's Fondation Louis Vuitton!

Under maestro Valery Gergiev's impeccable direction, the world-renowned Mariinsky Orchestra perform two beloved orchestral transcriptions by Ravel get things started: first, his own Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavane for a Dead Princess), lilting and lyrical—though not, despite its title, written for any actual historical figure, unlike the work that follows: Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. This supremely evocative suite, composed to honor the memory of Mussorgsky's friend, painter Viktor Hartmann, consists of ten pieces (with a recurrent Promenade) inspired by ten of Hartmann's paintings. One of the best-known examples of program music, it is likely even more widely heard today in Ravel's orchestration than in the original solo piano version.

These two in memoriam masterpieces give way to one that, for all intents and purposes, brought Sergei Rachmaninov back to life. The disastrous 1897 premiere of the young Russian's First Symphony in St. Petersburg, under-rehearsed and conducted by a possibly intoxicated Alexander Glazunov, plunged Rachmaninov into a deep depression and creative rut. Four years later, following a course of hypnotherapy, he composed the Piano Concerto No. 2, a staggering feat of poignant virtuosity whose rapturous reception saved his reputation and career. Now one of the most celebrated works ever written for the piano, it finds in the great Yuja Wang an interpreter worthy of its technical challenges and heart-rending poetry.

Yuja Wang appears courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon.

A closer look: composers and works

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