Tchaikovsky & Rachmaninov

9-3-2019, 20:15

A haunting epic and a powerful display of virtuosity. Prepare to be blown away by the Krashna orchestra in March 2019 when we will play not one, but two works: the Manfred symphony by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and the second Piano Concerto by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

The Manfred symphony, a programmatic symphony, was composed by Tchaikovsky in 1885. Tchaikovsky was inspired by the Gothic poem of the same name, written by Lord Byron in 1817.

In the poem, the main character Manfred is plagued by guilt about his deceased beloved Astarte. He travels to the Alps and summons seven spirits to help him forget his guilt. The spirits can not help him, and fate prevents him from escaping by suicide. In the end he appears in a bacchanal, meets the shade of Astarte and is pardoned. Manfred then dies free of guilt.

The four parts of the symphony reflect the storyline of Manfred: the first part, Lento lugubre, is about Manfred’s wandering in the Alps, tormented by hopeless longings. This part features the loudest climax Tchaikovsky ever wrote. Then there is the Vivace con spirito, about the appearance of the Alpine spirit (probably no pun intended). With little definition of any harmonic base, this part sounds fragile and magical. After that the Andante con moto tells a story about the simple life of the mountain folk. Finally, the Allegro con fuoco ends the story with the bacchanal, pardoning and death of Manfred, featuring a fugue, unexpected twists and a beautiful Germanic chorale.

Then there is Rachmaninoff’s second Piano Concerto, where Codarts conservatory student and TU Delft master student Floris van Dam shall play the solo piano part. It is one of Rachmaninoff’s most popular works. At its premiere in 1897, he just recovered from a depression that had lasted several years. From the first chords onwards, you can hear how his self-confidence was renewed.

It has three parts, Moderato, Adagio sostenuto and Allegro scherzando. Throughout the entire piece it becomes apparent just how virtuosic Rachmaninoff was: the dazzling motives and enormous chords seem nearly impossible but combined with the orchestra create an impressively bombastic performance. An interesting fact: Rachmaninoff’s hands were very large, which is why he was able to play – and thus write – 13th intervals with one hand. That’s more than 30 cm!

Two pieces full of drama, beauty and excitement. On the 9th of March, Krashna will perform this program in the Dominicuskerk in Amsterdam. Come enjoy a concert of Tchaikovsky’s and Rachmaninoff’s best pieces!