It was as a pianist that Rachmaninoff first distinguished himself, and the three concerts celebrate his virtuosity as composer for the keyboard. Chinese phenomenon and Curtis Institute of Music graduate Haochen Zhang and Russian sensation Nikolai Lugansky share pianistic laurels by performing all four of Rachmaninoff's piano concertos and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.
All three performances begin with Rachmaninoff's signature Vocalise, once for strings (heard with Rachmaninoff and The Philadelphia Orchestra via recording), once for piano four-hands (including Stéphane Denève), and once for voice and orchestra (featuring soprano Vanessa Vasquez). The repertoire for the performances April 27-29 also includes a work without which any Philadelphia Orchestra Rachmaninoff celebration would be incomplete: the composer's Symphonic Dances. Rachmaninoff's final completed work, it was dedicated to Eugene Ormandy and The Philadelphia Orchestra, and premiered by the ensemble in 1941.
In fact, half the orchestral works in this Festival were premiered by The Philadelphia Orchestra. The composer himself was at the keyboard when the Orchestra and Leopold Stokowski gave the premieres of the Piano Concerto No. 4 and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, in 1927 and 1934, respectively.
Ticket holders are also invited to enjoy pre- and post-concert activities.
April 27—The Creative Breakthrough
Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center
The Rachmaninoff Trilogy, Play One: “The Breakthrough”
John Hutton Sergei Rachmaninoff
Todd Cerveris Eugene Ormandy
Judith Lightfoot Clarke Natalia/Female Reporter
David Beach Alfred Swan
Peter Bradbury Dr. Nickolai Dahl / Alexander Ziloti
Didi Balle Director/Script Writer
The Rachmaninoff Trilogy revolves around the real-life performances and events surrounding Eugene Ormandy and The Philadelphia Orchestra's 1939 historic anniversary "Rachmaninoff Cycle" concert series featuring Sergei Rachmaninoff as pianist, composer, and conductor. Unable to compose for three years after the failure of his First Symphony, in "The Breakthrough" Rachmaninoff visits Dr. Nikolai Dahl (amateur musician, French-trained hypnotist, and psychiatrist of Russian birth) daily for three months. Dahl's sessions are the lens through which we glimpse Rachmaninoff's life as a young pianist, composer, and conductor. The sessions reveal Rachmaninoff's musical and emotional life, which undermine and eventually free him to compose his Piano Concerto No 2.
Concert (program listed above)
“Russian Salon” Postlude immediately following the orchestral concert:
Rachmaninoff Romance, from Two Pieces, for piano six-hands
Stéphane Denève Piano
Nikolai Lugansky Piano
Haochen Zhang Piano
Rachmaninoff Etude-Tableau in C minor, Op. 33, No. 3
Nikolai Lugansky Piano
Rachmaninoff First movement from Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19
Hai-Ye Ni Cello
Marcantonio Barone Piano
Support for these performances of the Rachmaninoff Festival is provided by Tatiana Copeland. Mrs. Copeland's mother was the niece of Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Tatiana Copeland was named after the composer's daughter, Tatiana Sergeyevna Rachmaninoff.