Semyon Bychkov © Chris Christodoulou
Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai / Gerstein / Bychkov
19:30 – ca. 21:30
Event has already taken place
It’s 1975: Semyon Bychkov emigrates from the USSR to the United States, where a singer with the pertinent name Eric Carmen is putting together his first hit single («All by Myself»), freely inspired by the second movement of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto (and without paying royalties, of course), while Pink Floyd are recording their cult album «Wish You Were Here» in London’s Abbey Road Studios in which they also fleetingly refer to the finale of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony … the year of Shostakovich’s death hovers like a secret «Peace» symbol over the programme that Semyon Bychkov has put together for the guest appearance of the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai with pianist Kirill Gerstein. In the bitter-sweet-fragrance of opium in the swank salons of the 19th century, you can also catch a whiff of spicy clouds of cannabis from behind the heavy velvet curtains wave scantily-clad flower children.
Both Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, who was 33 years his junior, epitomise — as perhaps only Stravinsky did later — an open and cosmopolitan Russia beyond the musical arch-conservatism of the «Powerful Few». Tchaikovsky above all can testify to just how little the morals of 1875 had in common with the Flower Power generation 100 years later: his Fourth Symphony, nicknamed the «Tragic», puts into music the pain of someone who battled with depression all of his life because of his homosexuality, who was at odds with society and struggled with his own unhappiness.
Kirill Gerstein will ensure that Rachmaninov’s popular Second Piano Concerto doesn’t sound too schmaltzy alongside the apocalyptic fanfares and quivering strings of Tchaikovsky’s symphony. The Russian piano virtuoso originally trained as a jazz pianist before he turned to classical music and will interpret is as a vivid reflection of European spirit in Russia’s musical history.