Celebrating International Music Day and the UK-Russia Year of Music 2019, pianist Yulia Chaplina is joined by UK-based artists for a programme of discerning Russian masterpieces by Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky and Scriabin. The concert in the Purcell Room on 1 October is dedicated to the cultural exchange between Russia and the UK. On 3 December, Chaplina performs at Pushkin House to celebrate Mieczysław Weinberg’s centenary.
At the Southbank Centre, Chaplina has curated a programme that showcases the close ties and similarities in style between four great Russian geniuses: Stravinsky, Rachmaninov, Scriabin and Tchaikovsky. The four composers are interlinked: Rachmaninov adored Tchaikovsky, writing a trio in his memory, and Tchaikovsky in return supported the young composer. Scriabin and Rachmaninov studied together at the Moscow’s Conservatoire – when Scriabin died, Rachmaninov played his works in Russia and the West. Stravinsky adored works by Tchaikovsky: his father had sung in the premieres of many of the composer’s operas at the Mariinsky Theatre. The programme culminates in Stravinsky’s rarely-performed Septet, composed in the early 1950s between the composer’s neoclassical period and final serial phase.
Ten distinguished musicians from different countries come together to join Chaplina and share in her love and passion for Russian music.
On 3 December at Pushkin House, Chaplina joins violinists Yuri Kalnits and Igor Yuzefovich to celebrate the centenary of Mieczysław Weinberg (1919-1996). They perform his Sonata for two violins and Sonatina for violin and piano in a programme also featuring violin works by Shostakovich and Prokofiev, two of his greatest inspirations.
On the centenary of the death of Russian composer Alexander Scriabin, American pianist Garrick Ohlsson concluded his two-concert “Skryabin Focus” at London’s Wigmore Hall with a recital of works which spanned the final two decades of Scriabin’s life.
It is hard to explain exactly what makes Scriabin’s music so compelling: far easier to explain why his music is not for everyone. It is the music of excess, ecstasy, tumult and passion. It is excessive, overripe, decadent, heavily perfumed, languorous and frenzied, lacking in structure and sometimes downright bizarre. The music of extremes, it is hyper everything, and as such it defies description or categorization. Its language is complex, often atonal and frequently almost impenetrable. For some listeners, and artists too, it is this “over-the-top-ness” that is off-putting; for others, myself and my concert companion included, it is this sense of excess and rapture that is so compelling. By his own admission, Garrick Ohlsson is a true Scriabin fan, the result of hearing Sviatoslav Richter perform the Seventh Piano Sonata. Ohlsson’s studies with a Russian teacher enabled him to regard Scriabin as “mainstream repertoire” and the composer’s music remains a mainstay of his repertoire.
It is a mark of the popularity of the BBC Radio 3 lunchtime concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall, and the high calibre of the performers, that these hour-long recitals are regularly sold out. Indeed, when I arrived at the Wigmore to hear Steven Osborne in a programme of music by Rachmaninov and Mussorgsky, there was a long queue of people waiting for returns. I relinquished my spare ticket (concert companion was indisposed) so that someone else could enjoy Osborne’s superb pianistic mastery and sensitive musicality. The theme of the concert was pictures: Mussorgsky’s popular and evergreen Pictures at an Exhibition preceded by a selection of Rachmaninov’s Etudes-Tableaux from the lesser-known Op.33.
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