Fancy an encore? As part of our #MoreMusic series for Icons Rediscovered, we delve further into the worlds of Elgar, Rachmaninov, Verdi, Wagner, Tchaikovsky and more composers. In our More Music playlists, we expand on the concert programme with music that gives a broader view of the composers featured in the series, alongside works by their contemporaries and the influences on the repertoire.
Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker and Iolanta
After the semi-staged performance of Tchaikovsky's last opera, Iolanta, and Act II of The Nutcracker in the Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday 8 November, discover more music by the icon of ballet and Romantic orchestral music.
Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty, the second of his three ballets and predecessor to The Nutcracker.
Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, based on Alexander Pushkin’s novel of the same name. Like Iolanta, it is a troubled love story, a tale of a young country girl and her unrequited infatuation with the sophisticated Onegin which ends in despair.
Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, with its iconic opening prelude, so closely mirrored here in Tchaikovsky’s score.
Elgar's Symphony No.1
After Lera Auerbach's Icarus, Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No.2 and Elgar's Symphony No.1, performed in Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall on Sunday 29 October, we recommend...
Wagner's Parsifal was noted as one of the Germanic influences on Elgar's Symphony No.1 by a reviewer for The Times after its 1909 London premiere, in addition to Brahms, but the review heralded the symphony as "one of the most original and most important that has been added to the stock of recent music." Fellow late-Romantic British composer Frederic Delius, who first gained popularity as a composer in Germany, was little-known in his birth country until future RPO founder Thomas Beecham championed his music, conducting the premiere of the opera A Village Romeo and Juliet in the Royal Opera House in 1910, from which the orchestral interlude The Walk to the Paradise Garden has become a concert favourite.
Lera Auerbach's utter uniqueness as a composer can be heard in 72 Angels for mixed choir and saxophone quartet, which, much like Icarus, uses the rich and esoteric nature of mythic narrative for its inspiration. Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.3 (1909) is widely considered to be one of the most challenging works in the romantic concerto repertoire, and arguably a more mature and more thematically intricate work than the concerto with which he made his breakthrough.
Rachmaninov's period of depression and creative blockage that preceded the Second Piano Concerto can be traced to the disastrous premiere of his First Symphony, which was conducted by Alexander Glazunov, who was probably not sober at the time. Glazunov as a Russian Romantic composer, much like Rachmaninov and Rimsky-Korsakov, was a hold-out against the modernism pioneered by those such as Stravinsky. One of his stand-out works was his Violin Concerto, which was premiered in St Petersburg in 1905.
Also, for the ‘truest’ possible interpretation of Elgar’s First Symphony, listen to the very first recording, made in 1931 by the London Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Elgar himself.
Lera Auerbach’s Russian Requiem (2007) explores her uneasy relationship with the homeland she left behind, her sense of geographical dislocation and her cultural inheritance. Listen to an excerpt.
Programme notes and listening recommendations by Jo Kirkbride, 2023
Thank you for your support and interest in our Icons Rediscovered series of concerts at Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall and the Royal Albert Hall.
Find #MoreMusic from our 2022-23 Journeys of Discovery series with Vasily Petrenko.