Thursday 13 Feb 2020, 7.30pmRoyal Festival Hall, London

Philharmonia Box Office : 020 7921 3907

Lahav Shani conductor

Kirill Gerstein piano

Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini


Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet (excerpts)


“Talent borrows, genius steals”, as the saying goes - in this concert Prokofiev and Rachmaninov steal from Shakespeare and Paganini to create enduring classics of their own.

Kirill Gerstein, hailed for his “expressive brilliance” (The Guardian), is the soloist in Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, premiered by Rachmaninov himself in 1934. Paganini’s Caprices, written over a century earlier, were dedicated “to all artists” - aptly so, as they inspired arrangements by composers from Schumann and Liszt to Benny Goodman. Rachmaninov’s Variations, alternately sparkling and thoughtful, moody and full of fun, are now better-known than Paganini’s original. The romantic 18th variation is particularly popular - Rachmaninov knowingly declared “this one is for my agent”.

Prokofiev’s ballet music for Romeo and Juliet, composed in 1935, contains so much great music that he created not one but three orchestral suites from it. Here Lahav Shani chooses his favourite moments, from the threatening tread of ‘The Montagues and the Capulets’ to the heart-wrenching scene of Romeo at the Tomb of Juliet.

The overture to Prokofiev’s opera War and Peace, composed in 1942 following the German invasion of Russia, opens as you might expect with military brass and snare drum. But gentler woodwind melodies allude to the love stories in Tolstoy’s great novel.



  • Prices: £58 (premium); £45; £36; £28; £19; £12
  • Discounts: Subscription discounts available; under-18s and concessions discounts available; £8 tickets for students via Student Pulse one month before the concert (limited availability)
  • Running time: 90 minutes, including 20 minute interval
  • Before the concert: FREE Philharmonia Chamber Players performance, 6pm, Royal Festival Hall

This concert is part of the Russian Classics series