Venue Details: Brighton Dome
- Beethoven : Leonora Overture No.3
- Rachmaninov : Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
- Shostakovich : Symphony No.5
- Conductor : Marin Alsop
- Soloist: Denis Kozhukhin (Piano)
Leonore No.3 stands as one of the great emblems of the heroic Beethoven, a potent and controlled musical embodiment of a noble humanistic passion. Too strong and big a piece, even too dramatic, it was never going to succeed as a mere introduction for a stage action. There is music of rapturous fiery energy as well as profound darkness.
The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini quickly became an indispensable repertory piece. Among connoisseurs and professionals it is probably the most admired of Rachmaninov’s works. It embodies his late style at its brilliant and witty best, it has one of the world’s irresistible melodies, and it gives the audience the satisfaction of watching a pianist work very hard and with obviously rewarding results.
Bowing to pressure from the brutal Stalinist state, Shostakovich wrote his Fifth Symphony to appease the authorities, yet still could not resist in hiding his disdain within the music. It was hugely successful - the government was pleased that the rebel had knuckled under, while the Russian in the street saw the truth behind the façade, while Western listeners, generally unaware of what was going on behind Stalin's mask were still overwhelmed by its grandeur and beauty.
“There is a joy in his [Denis Kozhukhin] playing which drives him right to the very essence of the possibilities contained within a score.”