Dancing witches, fiendish virtuosity and a composer 'dancing with the devil' for his own safety... Together they make for a gripping concert!
Verdi sets the scene with witches, ghouls and the queen of darkness, dancing around a cauldron. Rachmaninoff picks up with music based on a tune by the violinist Paganini, a virtuoso so brilliant some thought he'd sold his soul to the devil! The 'Rach Pag' is an astonishing set of variations for piano and orchestra, and variation 18 contains the most memorable melody Rachmaninoff ever wrote.
Shostakovich had his own devils to deal with in Soviet Russia. And his popular Fifth Symphony rings with the bold, heroic gestures the regime expected. A 'practical, creative reply to just criticism' is how he described it. Or was it? This is music that dances with the devil, its 'positive' spirit just tinged with satire...