Usher Hall: Sunday Classics, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra

27 January 2019

Usher Hall, Edinburgh

I visited Edinburgh recently to watch Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, one of my all time favourites. I always watch it live whenever the opportunity comes around and fortunately I had time this year.

I love Rachmaninoff’s music, having learned one of his preludes – Prelude in G# Minor, Op. 32 No. 12 – as part of my Diploma programme, I immediately fell in love with it and listened to his other works and researched about Rachmaninoff and his work. I came across his famous Piano Concerto No. 2 on YouTube ( performed by Anna Federova and the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie – conducted by Martin Panteleev – in the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. That performance was heavenly and moving that I kept going back to it whenever I had a rough day or week.

The first time I watched the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 was in 2016 at the Glasgow City Halls, performed by Steven Osborne and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. The live experience was much greater, I remembered the bell-like opening chords, it was haunting. It overwhelmed me and moved me to tears and it also gave me a sense of reassurance.

St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra

This time, I went to the Usher Hall to watch it performed by Freddy Kempf and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. It is truly amazing to hear different interpretations of the same piece, played with the performer’s own touch and flare. This was my third time watching it performed live and I am still amazed by the Music. Freddy played it with power, passion and spirit in the Music which is different from the sensitive performances I have heard previously. The Russian Philharmonic Orchestra was absolutely brilliant, they really embodied the true Russian influence in their playing – it lures you into a spell.

Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Edinburgh at Night

Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2

The Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18 was composed from 1900-1901, it was one of his well-known pieces and it established his fame as a concerto composer. The second and third movements were first performed in 1900 and the complete concerto was premiered in 1901 performed by Rachmaninoff himself and conducted by his cousin, Alexander Siloti.

Rachmaninoff fell into depression after a disastrous premiere of his first symphony and due to struggles in his personal life; it lasted for three years. This was his recovery composition from depression and a creative block, he underwent hypnotherapy and psychotherapy, with the support of his family and close circle to help him get better. This concerto was dedicated to his therapist, Nikolai Dahl who helped him gain back his self-esteem.