Dausgaard's Rachmaninov BBC Proms

Dausgaard's Rachmaninov

This all-Rachmaninov programme features the famously demanding Third Piano Concerto, followed by the capricious and impassioned Second Symphony.

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Tonight, we enter the rich, romantic world of Rachmaninov


with two of his most loved works, his hauntingly beautiful second


symphony and his virtuosic third piano concerto,


This evening, the Royal Albert Hall plays host to the BBC


Scottish Symphony Orchestra who will perform two masterworks,


both written by Rachmaninov in the first decade of the 20th


century, two pieces that today must be among his most popular works.


Later, the orchestra's chief conductor, Thomas Dausgaard,


will lead a performance of the second symphony,


the work that represented a return to health for a composer left broken


and devastated by the failure of his first symphony.


We start, though, with the piano concerto that Rachmaninov wrote


to perform himself on a tour of the United States.


He was famous for his big, broad hands and his limitless energy


He found the challenges of his third concerto easy.


Pianists who have tackled the work since describe it as one of the most


technically daunting in the repertoire, a sort


of musical Mount Everest that has to be conquered.


Tonight, the brilliant young Ukranian-born pianist


Alexander Gavrylyuk takes on the challenge.


So two great, popular pieces on the programme,


but we are going to go a stage further.


As well as an orchestra who have come here from Glasgow,


we welcome an ensemble of singers from Riga, the Latvian Radio Choir,


who are going to sing Russian Orthodox chants,


some of which, harmonised and re-imagined, seeped


into these symphonic works, making the journey from


I've been talking to conductor Thomas Dausgaard about what we learn


by listening to the music Rachmanonov himself


I'll was founded an inspiration to think what could have influenced the


composer's imagination. In this concert with Rachmaninov's music,


there are some important routes, like Russian Orthodox chanting in


the church, and the way that has influenced his work on so many


levels, it is important to share with the audience. We have a


wonderful chorus joining us for tonight's performance. At the top of


each piece, they will sing and Orthodox chant. The one song before


the third piano Concerto is exciting and striking. When the third


concerto premiered, Rachmaninov was asked whether it had any relation to


his theme, and he said, no, I completely compose that myself, but


my subconscious might have worked with me. That is super interesting.


That is what works with is all all the time. For the second symphony,


there is not such an obvious choice of chant, but there is still


something moving in the opening melodic line of the symphony. So


many references, also, to other kinds of church music, bell-ringing.


It will put us in a good frame of mind for it.


Well, in just a second, pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk


is going to take his place at the piano, ready to play


Thomas Dausgaard will conduct the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.


Before that the Latvian Radio Choir are going to sing Grob Tvoy, Spase,


MUSIC: Piano Concerto No. 3 by Rachmaninov.


MUSIC: Piano Concerto No 3 in D Minor by Rachmaninov.


MUSIC: Piano Concerto No 3 in D Minor by Rachmaninov.


Alexander Gavrylyuk playing Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto


Thomas Dausgaard conducting the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.


And this Sunday evening prom began with a traditional chant from the


Russian Orthodox Church, sung by the Latvian Radio Choir, music that


inspired Rachmaninov when he was writing this Piano Concerto. It it


is a work that he wrote to play himself, and when he toured North


America in 1909 it was well greeted. When he played it at Carnegie Hall,


the conductor was Gustav Mahler. It was a moment that Rachmaninov


treasured. Rachmaninov's music has always been important to Alexander


Gavrylyuk. He moved to Australia at the age of 13 and said he found it


to be a very different planets and missed his native Ukraine. He turned


to music to find reflections of his feelings and he said Rachmaninov was


always near and in his heart. The music reflects human emotional


life, says Alexander Gavrylyuk, more than anything I know. This power can


lead to special moments of revelation. We are going to have an


That glorious moment of silent reflection after that encore from


Alexander Gavrylyuk. Rachmaninov's Vocalise, originally a song for


piano containing no words, but some using a single vowel of the singer's


choosing. -- but sung using. Alexander Gavrylyuk, star of the BBC


Proms this Sunday. You are watching BBC


Four at the Proms. Coming up in a moment,


Rachmaninov's second symphony, preceded by more


of the Russian Orthodox Chant His grandmother was very religious


and it was she who took the young Rachmaninov to the churches


of St Petersburg. "Being only a youngster I took less


interest in God and worship than in the singing,


which was of unrivalled beauty", "I usually took pains to find a room


underneath the gallery and never Thanks to my good memory, I also


remembered most of what I heard. This I turned into capital,


literally, by sitting down at the piano when I came home


and playing it. For this performance my grandmother


never failed to reward me with 25 kopeks, a large sum to an urchin


of 10 or 11." It was music he was never to forget,


music that seeped into many of his The Latvian Radio Choir


performed downstairs Now they have come up


here to the gallery, and before they sing,


two members of the Karlis and Inga. Let me start with


you, Inga. It is fascinating to hear how Thomas Dausgaard was inspired by


the chanting. Yes, all of his music is full of Orthodox chants, and also


Orthodox bells. We heard that in the piano concert, in the symphony, it


is repeated. We memorise church music and the bells. Your country,


Latvia, is a land of Song. So many great Latvian choral composers. How


often do you sing this Russian material? We do it quite a lot.


Historically, we are tied to Russian culture. We understand the Russian


language itself, which helps us as performers to perform Russian choral


music, because it takes the stress away to understand what you're


singing about and pronunciation. We do it quite a lot. This music was


written to be sung in the great churches and cathedrals of St


Petersburg and other Russian cities. What is it like doing it in this


concert Hall? We can see what it was late in the evening, when the whole


is Phil. In the daytime, with rehearsal, it was a good feeling. I


guess it is the first time in Europe that we do it outside the church. We


have done it in Japan in concert halls, but not in Europe. Thank you


for joining us. We will send you over to the next balcony in the


Royal Albert Hall, to join your colleagues in the Latvian Radio


Choir in a few minutes time. The Latvian Radio Choir will be


performing Rachmaninov's Vespers later on in a late-night Prom. That


is on BBC Radio 3. To whet your appetite,


here's a short clip of the USSR Ministry Of Culture Chamber Choir's


performance of the Vespers The rich sound of the USSR


Ministry Of Culture Chamber Choir, performing at the Proms


back in 1991. Back to tonight's Prom now


and Rachmaninov's second symphony, a work that was not arrived


at in a hurry. The premiere of his first symphony


became one of classical music's One critic, a fellow composer,


described it as the "seven plagues of Egypt all rolled


into a single piece". The performance was under-rehearsed,


the conductor was probably drunk. Rachmaninov, embarrassed


and humiliated, had a nervous It was only after treatment


with hypnosis that he Nonetheless, it was nearly


a decade before he felt able The second is a vast work,


up to an hour long in performance, and containing the very


best of Rachmaninov. It's filled with glorious melodies,


painted out in rich, It opens with long,


brooding slow introduction, reminiscent of that Russian Orthodox


chant he so loved. And so, here comes Thomas Dausgaard


to conduct the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Rachmaninov's


second symphony, but first of all, from the gallery,


the Latvian Radio Choir sing Svete MUSIC: Symphony No 2


in E Minor by Rachmaninov. MUSIC: Symphony No 2


in E Minor by Rachmaninov. APPLAUSE


CHEERING Rachmaninov's Symphony No.


2 in E Minor. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra,


conducted by Thomas Dausgaard. Before the symphony,


we heard the Latvian Radio Choir singing Svete Tikhy,


Serene Light. That was conducted by Sigvards


Klava. The principal clarinettist of the


BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra rises to a great cheer. Technically


speaking, the second symphony is a 20th-century work, but it has all


the intensity and emotion of 19th-century Romanticism. A word


that he began the orchestration of in the summer of 1907, immediately


after the birth of his second daughter.


After the premiere, he conducted the Symphony once again in Moscow,


several times in Europe and the USA, but after he left Russia in December


1917, he never again performed it. Sadly, he left no recording of it


either. Just about to start on Radio 3,


the Latvian Radio Choir sing Rachmaninov's Vespers,


and they will be back on Monday lunchtime


when they perform Shostakovich. That's in our chamber Prom,


live from Cadogan Hall, 1 o'clock on Monday lunchtime,


on BBC Radio Three. BBC Four is back at the Proms next


Friday with two programmes. The Aurora Orchestra's performance


of Beethoven's Symphony No 3, Eroica, and from the late-night


Prom, the first full live performance of Ravi Shankar


and Philip Glass's album Passages. For now, from me, Petroc Trelawny,


and all of us at the Royal


This all-Rachmaninov programme features two of the composer's greatest and most-loved works performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under conductor Thomas Dausgaard. Alexander Gavrylyuk is the soloist for the famously demanding Third Piano Concerto, which is followed by the capricious and impassioned Second Symphony. The Latvian Radio Choir joins the line-up, setting both pieces alongside the Russian Orthodox chants that the composer would have known.

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