Programme Guide

“Rachmaninov is an incredible figure in Russian music history. Every time I listen to him or play him, I fall more in love with this music.” Nikolai Lugansky, who when just 19 recorded a CD of all the Études-Tableaux by his great role model, is now considered one of the world’s best Rachmaninov interpreters – he approaches the polychromatic, shimmering melancholy of the Russian composer virtuoso with just as much filigree elegance as virtuosic force. He studied with, among others, Tatiana Nikolayeva, who in turn studied with the renowned pedagogue Alexander Goldenweiser, and who as a celebrated Bach interpreter inspired none other than Dmitri Shostakovich to his Preludes and Fugues op. 87. Lugansky, who experienced his international breakthrough in 1994 upon winning the Tenth International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, once dumbfounded his teacher by memorising the entire score of Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto, which is riddled with the greatest of technical hurdles, in just three days. At his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker, conducted by Tugan Sokhiev, Nikolai Lugansky is bringing along the work considered the culmination of Rachmaninov’s piano composing: the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini op. 43, a series of 24 variations on Paganini’s well-known Caprice No. 24 for solo violin, which had already inspired Liszt, Schumann and Brahms to compose variations. The work reaches its quirky and humorous high point in Variation No. 7, in which, as a reference to the famous “devil’s violinist”, you hear the “Dies irae” sequence.

The evening also starts in a balladic way, with César Franck’s symphonic poem Le Chasseur maudit based on Gottfried August Bürger’s romantic ballad “The Wild Huntsman”: the four-part work climaxes in the wild ride of the accursed, condemned as a blasphemer to be hunted through the world by hellhounds until the Last Judgement. The concert concludes with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite Scheherazade, whose exotic richness of colour anticipates the subtle sonorities of French impressionism. “The programme that I […] had in mind”, wrote the composer, “was individual episodes from Thousand and One Nights; they are strewn in all four movements of the suite: the sea and Sinbad’s ship, the fantastic narrative of Prince Kalendar […] and the ship that breaks against a cliff surmounted by a bronze horseman.”

Help Contact
How to watch Newsletter Institutional Access Access Vouchers
Legal notice Terms of use Privacy Policy