Ready for an emotional roller-coaster ride? Take Rachmaninov’s heart-wrenching Piano Concerto No. 2, probably the most popular piano concerto in history, pair it with Prokofiev’s Fifth symphony, a powerful hymn to freedom composed during the Second World War, and fasten your seatbelt.
Thursday 13 Feb 2020, 7.30pmRoyal Festival Hall, London
Lahav Shani conductor
Kirill Gerstein piano
Prokofiev Overture, War and Peace
Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet (excerpts)
Which bit of this concert will you be humming on the way home? The gorgeous melody of Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (the really lush part is Variation 18, if you want to add it to your playlist right now)? Or the threatening march of the Montagues and the Capulets from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet?
Sunday 23 Feb 2020, 7.30pmRoyal Festival Hall, London
Michael Sanderling conductor
Emmanuel Tjeknavorian violin
Sibelius Violin Concerto
Brahms Symphony No. 4
Sibelius’s violin concerto is a pinnacle in the repertoire of any violinist. Hauntingly beautiful melodies – check. Devilishly difficult passages – check. Ethereal high notes – check. Come and hear it in the hands of exceptional young violinist Emmanuel Tjeknavorian. Then let yourself be swept up in the emotion and grandeur of Brahms’s Fourth Symphony.
Thursday 27 Feb 2020, 7.30pmRoyal Festival Hall, London
John Wilson conductor
Leonidas Kavakos violin
Barber First Essay
Korngold Violin Concerto
Elgar Symphony No. 3
Edward Elgar, quintessential English composer, rubs shoulders with two American greats: Samuel Barber (ever wondered what else he wrote apart from the Adagio for Strings?) and Erich Korngold. An Oscar-winning film composer in the 1930s and 40s, Korngold worked his favourite melodies from his films into a ravishing Violin Concerto.
Thursday 5 Mar 2020, 7.30pmRoyal Festival Hall, London
Sir George Benjamin conductor
Pierre-Laurent Aimard piano
James Hall countertenor
Philharmonia Voices (Ladies) choir
Oliver Knussen Choral
Messiaen Le merle bleu from Catalogue d'oiseaux for solo piano
Benjamin Duet for piano and orchestra
Benjamin Dream of the Song
25 brass players raise the roof in Janáček’s thrilling Sinfonietta. But first it’s time for something much more recent. George Benjamin conducts his own Dream of the Song, vivid settings of Andalusian poetry, alongside music by his teacher Olivier Messiaen and his friend Oliver Knussen.