En blogg om Stavanger Symfoniorkesters vei fra Kuppelhallen via Carnegie Hall i New York til Nytt Konserthus i Bjergsted


Rachmaninoff - brilliant and humble

Tomorrow I’ll be giving the pre-concert talk for this final concert of the Main Series for this season. It’s an auspicious occasion being almost the final concert in the Kuppelhallen, in fact; in less than a month we move to our new home down the hill to begin acoustical testing. Until then – just two spectacular concerts remaining, and a week of schools concerts (hopefully also considered spectacular by their audiences!!).

Serge Rachmaninoff

I’m finishing up on some final reading for tomorrow, and realising just what a genius Rachmaninoff was. It is well known that he was a man of exceptional talent – equally recognised as a composer, pianist and conductor throughout his lifetime – but there are also some well-known facts that (for me anyway!) have concealed the detail of the life of this fascinating composer. Reading some of his correspondence and memoirs from friends and family has addressed this somewhat, and a picture of a shy but self assured, brilliant but humble, man has come through.

Chased three careers
For an example of his extraordinary talent as a composer: he finished his final composition exercise for the Moscow Conservatory less than three weeks after it was set – an entire one act, full orchestrated opera, Aleko (that went on be performed at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow).  This story helps for me to balance the popular image of Rachmaninoff as a composer plagued his whole life by insecurities…

Nonetheless, after a long career at the top of three disciplines, he was once heard to remark, “I have chased three hares – can I be certain that I have captured one?” For an opinion on that, you’ll just have to come and hear his ravishing Second Symphony with the SSO tomorrow (one of my personal favourite symphonies, too…)

(and to hear the man himself in action, have a listen to his Prelude in C#minor, recorded in the 1920s:

Percussion superstar 
This, of course, is only half the programme, and tomorrow we’ll be treated to the magnificent playing of one of the world’s percussion superstars, Colin Currie. The work he’ll be playing is a concerto written for him by the American composer Jennifer Higdon (more information here for those who are interested ) and he’s generously agreed to come and answer a few questions in the verkorientering, too – so be there early if you want to see him before he heads away to prepare for the concert!

All the best, 

Stacey Dixon
SSO oboist

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