In his debut performance with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Russian conductor Dima Slobodeniouk will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and pianist Simon Trp?eski in Rachmaninoff's Fourth Piano Concerto on Friday, March 22 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 24 at 3 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Saturday, March 23 at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore. The performance will also feature Rachmaninoff's The Rock and Shostakovich's powerful Symphony No. 11. Please see below for complete program details.
Rachmaninoff's Fourth Piano Concerto is a showpiece that skillfully intertwines both Russian and American musical influences. Rachmaninoff began working on the Fourth Piano Concerto in 1917 while in Russia, but completed the piece in 1926 after moving to the U.S. In this new environment, Rachmaninoff was exposed to and inspired by American jazz musicians including Gershwin, whose influence can be seen in the Fourth Piano Concerto's slow movement and blues-like theme. The Fourth Concerto is also noted for illuminating Rachmaninoff's unique style of lyricism, including an element of nostalgia and romantic, yearning themes, while at the same time capturing a sense of newfound freedom, flexibility, and color, arising from his experience in the U.S. The Fourth Piano Concerto was Rachmaninoff's first new composition after a nine-year hiatus and this passionate and powerful showpiece reminded the world of his incredible talent.
Also on the program is Rachmaninoff's fantasia, The Rock, inspired by Chekhov's story On the Road, which bears the epigraph from Lermontov's poem The Rock, "A little golden cloud spent the night/On the breast of a giant rock". In Chekhov's story, the "cloud" takes the form of a young woman, which Rachmaninoff elegantly depicts through the graceful use of flutes. The "rock" represents a brutish man, whose misery Rachmaninoff is able to evoke through three short motifs drawing upon the deeper tones of cellos and basses. In this piece, Rachmaninoff makes full use of the orchestra to create a striking musical imagery that captures the complexities of these characters and brings the piece to a burning climax followed by a tragic coda.
The performance also includes Shostakovich's epic Symphony No. 11, a very popular piece inspired by the failed Russian Revolution of 1905, though it is suspected that the real inspiration for the work is the abortive Hungarian Uprising of 1956. The piece is highly cinematic as it vividly recollects the history behind the Uprising through a series of violent climaxes followed by moments of cold, deep stillness. The powerful, brooding piece also incorporates true revolutionary songs into its vivacious orchestral fold to accurately capture the gripping desperation and emotion behind this tragic time.