AMPAG, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Melbourne Symphony Orchestra:Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2

June 2020

Fri 19 

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Hamer Hall



Music that burrows into the soul.

One of the most recognisable piano concertos in the world, Rachmaninov’s second is also a moving account of mental struggle.

Dedicated to the man who saved him from a desperate downwards spiral, Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto was a significant personal and professional success. The rhapsodic showpiece has been adored since its premiere at the turn of the 20th century.

Exquisite and stormy, complex and romantic, it is full of great sweep and drama, but also moments of almost painful fragility. The trope of the temperamental artist may be a worn one, but it’s vital to the genesis of this work, and to an understanding of the man who created it.

Rachmaninov, like many artists, was incredibly sensitive to criticism; he completely shut down as a composer after the negative reaction to his First Symphony, and fell into a deep depression that lasted several years. Without the therapy he undertook with physician Nikolai Dahl, he might have fallen into obscurity as a piano teacher. The piano concerto, which he dedicated to Dahl, represents his first steps towards recovery.

Tchaikovsky’s fear of failure was akin to Rachmaninov’s. A relatively unsuccessful premiere of his Fourth Symphony evoked an anxiety in him to prove, not only to his audience, but to himself, that he could create another work of critical acclaim. Although the response to his Symphony No.5 was mixed, today the piece is one of his most-loved symphonic works.

Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski, under the baton of Finnish–Ukrainian conductor Dalia Stasevska, will demonstrate music’s power to face despair and doubt, and transform it into something triumphant.

The MSO opens this program with the world premiere of a new work by Cybec Young Composer in Residence Jordan Moore.