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Boris Giltburg / Johan Jacobs

Brussels Philharmonic & Boris Giltburg

Rachmaninov Festival Day #04

The Romantic Years. Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, the “Original Romantics”, combined in two works that are brimming with humanity, passion and personal expression.

“For him, I predict a great future!” Tchaikovsky apparently said of the then 16-year-old Rachmaninov – who is now regarded as one of the last great Romantic composers and the most important successor to Tchaikovsky himself. Rachmaninov was greatly influenced by Tchaikovsky in his early years: he admired his passion and melodic style, and felt the same strong affinity with the Russian musical tradition.

After the disastrous première of his First Symphony in 1897, Rachmaninov lost his confidence in his talent and fell into a depression. For three years, he did not put a single note on paper, until at last, thanks to treatment by the neurologist Nicolai Dahl, he re-emerged from the depths and wrote his Second Piano Concerto. “The only thing I’m trying to do when I write music is to express what is in my heart. Love, bitterness, sadness or religious sentiment, my music consists of all of this....” And you can feel that in this passionate concerto, which represented Rachmaninov’s great breakthrough as a composer.

The same profound emotion inspired Tchaikovsky when he was composing Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare’s play had made a deep impression on the tormented composer, and his version of this iconic love story is unquestionably one of the most moving.

Flagey, Brussels Philharmonic

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