Man smiling with chin resting on hand
Calendar, Classical music, May 19, Music, Performing arts

Music: Romantic Rachmaninov

30 May @ Perth Concert Hall ·
Presented by West Australian Symphony Orchestra ·

From brooding mystery to wild energy.

Prompted by his exile from Russia and composed as he grappled with history and faith, Rachmaninov’s gorgeous Second Symphony is a work bursting with seductive melodies of heart wrenching passion and beauty. Australian conductor Nicholas Carter, Principal Conductor of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, returns to WASO with this romantic tour-de-force.

The performance takes place on 30 May at 11 am.

More info
W: www.waso.com.au/concerts-tickets/whats-on/concert/Romantic-Rachmaninov
E:  waso@waso.com.au

Pictured: Nicholas Carter – Romantic Rachmaninov

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Man sitting at piano
April 19, Calendar, Classical music, Music, Performing arts

Music: Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody

5 & 6 April @ Perth Concert Hall ·
Presented by West Australian Symphony Orchestra ·

On a Theme of Paganini.
In his WASO debut Jaime Martín conducts an all-Russian concert bursting with colour, imagination and devilish flair. Rachmaninov’s show-stopping Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is a concerto in all but name, its variations on Paganini’s Caprice No.24 full of scintillating and inventive detail. Behzod Abduraimov returns to Perth to dazzle you with this virtuosic showpiece. The enthralling symphonic journey of three fairground puppets comes to life in the second half with Stravinsky’s energetic and richly melodic Petrushka.

Friday 5 and Saturday 6 April at 7.30pm

More info
W: www.waso.com.au/concerts-tickets/whats-on/concert/Rachmaninovs-Rhapsody
E:  waso@waso.com.au

Picutred: Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody

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Vespers at St Mary's Cathedral
Calendar, Choral, Music, Performing arts, September 19

Music: WASO Chorus Sings: Vespers

22 September @ St Mary’s Cathedral ·
Presented by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra ·

Sergei Rachmaninov had a deep and very personal connection  to the sacred music of his homeland, which he expressed most profoundly in his reflective set of choral vespers. Separated into two parts, the evening Vespers and the morning Matins, this sublime work is drenched in rich harmonies that will resonate in the magnificent acoustics St Mary’s Cathedral.

22 September at 2pm

More info
W: www.waso.com.au/concerts-tickets/whats-on/concert/waso-chorus-sings-vespers
E:  waso@waso.com.au

Pictured: WASO Chorus Sings: Vespers

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Classical music, Music, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Stepping outside the box

Review: West Australian Symphony Orchestra, ‘Cédric Tiberghien Plays Rachmaninov 3’ ·
Perth Concert Hall, 25 August ·
Review by Tiffany Ha ·

Sergei Rachmaninov’s third piano concerto (“Rach 3” for short) begins like a lot of other canonical piano repertoire from the late-Romantic era: with a simple, unadorned melody. Visiting French pianist Cedric Tiberghien played the opening subject in cleanly articulated octaves, with an understated piano dynamic that shone through the swirling textures of the orchestra behind him. In such a dense and challenging work, each iteration of the main melodic material becomes a beacon of light to the listener – guiding them through the landscape, unifying the events of the piece through the lens of a kind of hero’s journey. Tiberghien was a captivating, capable hero. He certainly looked the part: young, tall and fit, with a blonde, Luke Skywalker-esque mop of hair. Indeed, as he grappled with the immense technical and expressive demands of the twenty-five minute concerto, displaying remarkable physical and mental stamina, he was reminiscent of a troubled Skywalker in Return of The Jedi, dressed in black, having to recall all his previous training and experience to conquer some of the biggest challenges of his life. And when you see Tiberghien execute those fierce double octave runs at break-neck vivacissimo, it’s hard to believe that he’s not using “the force”.

At the conclusion of the third movement, Tiberghien released the final thundering chord with a dramatic upward swing of the arms, his head and torso recoiling. He sprung from his seat to give conductor Asher Fisch a warm embrace – a refreshing, endearing alternative to the traditional handshake. You could tell they had good chemistry; Fisch seemed to regard the young soloist as both a teammate and a protégé. After several rounds of applause and some scattered ovations, Tiberghien returned to the stage for his encore: a transcription of a Bach prelude, arranged by Alexander Siloti – Rachmaninov’s piano teacher and first cousin. The prelude – with its slow harmonic progression and sparse, transparent texture – served as a lovely palate cleanser after a heavy first course.

The second half of the concert featured two works by Hungarian modernist composer Béla Bartók: the orchestral Dance Suite and The Miraculous Mandarin: Suite. The 1923 Dance Suite was commissioned by Budapest municipal authorities to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the union of Buda, Óbuda and Pest. The suite’s six contrasting movements flow on from one another, weaving in threads from Hungarian, Romanian and Arabic folk tunes to create what Bartók described as “a kind of idealised peasant music”. The orchestra, led by Fisch’s animated yet measured baton, played with their usual level of musicianship – cut-offs were crisp, the sound was unified, they were true to the score. It was also exciting to see the not-so-common instruments featured, such as the celeste, harp, bass clarinet and contrabassoon. The orchestra’s enjoyment of this piece was evident in the joy and vibrance of their performance.

The Miraculous Mandarin ballet, which Bartók scored, first premiered in 1926. His orchestral suite version – essentially a collection of musical scenes from the ballet – premiered two years later. The ballet depicts the tale of a girl and three ruffians who attempt to swindle unsuspecting passers-by, through seduction and violent robbery. The rather taboo subject matter and the often jarring musical style of The Miraculous Mandarin is reminiscent of Stravinsky’s work with the Ballet Russes (most notably The Rite of Spring). While the orchestra did well to evoke a range of moods and scenes – sleazy trombone slides, heart-fluttering flute flutter-tonguing (try saying that quickly three times!), clamouring percussion – it can be hard to understand and fully appreciate the music without the visual element of the ballet. It’s akin to listening to the soundtrack for a film you’ve never seen. However enjoyable it may be, you can’t help but feel that you’re missing part of the package. As a fan of Bartók, and as someone who will read the concert program cover to cover, I still struggled to fully engage with this suite.

Nevertheless – I love that WASO are taking chances with their programming and stepping outside the box.

Pictured top: Cedric Tiberghien. Photo: Benjamin Ealovega.

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Cedric Tiberghien Plays Rachmaninov 3
August 18, Calendar, Classical music, Music, Performing arts

Music: Cedric Tiberghien Plays Rachmaninov 3

24 & 25 August, 7.30pm @ Perth Concert Hall ·
Presented by West Australian Symphony Orchestra ·

Exotic colours from Bartók and Rachmaninov’s virtuosic Third Piano Concerto.

French pianist Cédric Tiberghien returns to WASO in an exhilarating concert featuring Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto. Fiendishly virtuosic and powerfully emotional, “Rach 3” is an all-time audience favourite.

Bartók wrote his folk-influenced Dance Suite to mark the 50th anniversary of the unification of the Hungarian cities of Buda and Pest. His Miraculous Mandarin Suite is one of the twentieth-century’s most dazzling scores, a dangerously seductive portrayal of lust and violence – dramatic, mysterious and sinister.

“Tiberghien’s technique is formidable, but it’s his intensity and poetic impulsiveness that catch the ear.” – Boston Globe

RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No.3
BARTÓK Dance Suite
BARTÓK The Miraculous Mandarin: Suite

More info: www.waso.com.au
Email: waso@waso.com.au

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August 18, Calendar, Classical music, Music, Performing arts

Music: Cedric Tiberghien Plays Rachmaninov 3

23 August, 11am @ Perth Concert Hall ·
Presented by West Australian Symphony Orchestra ·

Exotic colours from Bartók and Rachmaninov’s virtuosic Third Piano Concerto.
French pianist Cédric Tiberghien returns to WASO in an exhilarating concert featuring Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto. Fiendishly virtuosic and powerfully emotional, “Rach 3” is an all-time audience favourite.

The concert opens with Bartók’s folk- influenced Dance Suite, written to mark the 50th anniversary of the unification of the Hungarian cities of Buda and Pest.

“… pianist Cédric Tiberghien, was almost spookily unfazed by the wildest demands of the keyboard part and summoned a great deal of colour and expressive power.” – The Baltimore Sun

BARTOK Dance Suite
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No.3

More info: www.waso.com.au
Email: waso@waso.com.au

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Classical music, Music, News, Reviews

Oh those Russians

Review: WASO Masters Series – Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No.10 •
Perth Concert Hall, 25 November •
Review by Tiffany Ha •

Panic rose as we drove along the Swan River, past Demolition Derby cars, towards the overflowing carpark opposite the Concert Hall. There were only ten minutes left before conductor Asher Fisch and pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk would walk on stage to begin those brooding, rising chords of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto – one of the most memorable and unmistakeably Russian works in the orchestral canon.

Somehow we managed to park, sprint several blocks across town, collect our tickets, and find our seats just seconds before the house lights dimmed… albeit sweaty and breathless. Hot tip: allow plenty of time for parking, or ditch the car altogether for your weekend WASO outing.

Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto – one of the most famous and loved in the repertory – has always served as a kind of benchmark among young pianists. As a student one would refer to it in hushed tones: “He’s learning Rach Two” or “She played Rach Two when she was in high school”, to which others would respond with protracted “oohs” and nods of respect. But what makes the Concerto so favoured is not its difficulty. Rather, there is something about this music that is deeply touching and satisfying. It’s lush, lyrical, fervent and personal. It’ll make you swoon, perhaps even cry. Eric Carmen’s 1975 hit “All By Myself” borrows liberally from Rachmaninov’s opening theme in the second movement of the concerto (yes, that’s why it sounds so familiar).

At times Fisch and Gavrylyuk moved and gestured as if negotiating a temperamental beast; I couldn’t help but think of Daenerys, Mother of Dragons.

In my many years of attending WASO I don’t think I have ever seen a crowd as moved as it was on Saturday night. There were gasps between each movement; nearly everybody leapt to their feet at the conclusion of the Concerto, standing for four rounds of applause. Fisch and Gavrylyuk had such wonderful rapport. They gave each other space at the helm of the orchestra, navigating musical swells and storms calmly, authoritatively and humbly. At times they moved and gestured as if negotiating a temperamental beast; I couldn’t help but think of Daenerys, Mother of Dragons. For Fisch, the dragon was the big, fiery orchestra. For Gavrylyuk, the dragon was a nine-foot Steinway, which soared and thrashed and whispered beneath his fingertips in a brilliant display of virtuosity.

After a breath-taking encore performance of Rachmaninov’s “Vocalise” for solo piano, followed by intermission, Fisch and the nearly one-hundred-strong orchestra returned to the stage for Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony. The work first premiered in 1953, soon after the death of Joseph Stalin. The Soviet leader had alternately praised and denounced Shostakovich so many times throughout his career that I feel his bio should come with a trigger warning. In the Tenth Symphony, we hear the composer striving towards authenticity in the sheer breadth of ideas and emotions he explores. Fisch and WASO handled the complex material masterfully, from the immense weight of the first movement to the zappy, explosive “Gopak dance” in the second. To witness such depth, sensitivity and control of tension is rare in an orchestral performance of this scale.

To witness such depth, sensitivity and control of tension is rare in an orchestral performance of this scale.

We had the pleasure of hearing two monumental pieces – both Russian, both from the same era – showcasing two very different individual styles. First we had Rachmaninov, who suffered a stifling depression after his poorly-received First Symphony, “cured” himself with hypnotherapy, and then made the Comeback Of The Century with his Second Piano Concerto. Shostakovich faced national scrutiny and criticism for most of his career, which made him very good at finding obscure and subtle ways of voicing dissent through music – think of it as a very elusive, passive-aggressive, non-verbal rap battle. And like rap musicians, his struggle makes him Real, gives his work gravitas. What could be more Romantic than that?

If you’re planning a WASO date and wish to rouse in your companion a deep yearning or passion, go with something Russian-sounding, composed between 1820 and 1950. Though, to be honest, simply being able to spell these composers’ names correctly will score you brownie points.

Pictured top is Asher Fisch.

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Calendar, Classical music, Music, November

Music: Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto

24-25 November @ Perth Concert Hall ◆
Presented by West Australian Symphony Orchestra ◆

A concert of Russian passion and power.

Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto is a ravishing masterpiece, overflowing with lush, rich melodies that live long in the memory. Alexander Gavrylyuk is acclaimed worldwide for thrilling performances of this ever-popular concerto.
The bitter core of Shostakovich’s 1953 Tenth Symphony is its scherzo: a less than flattering portrait of Stalin, who died the same year. This deeply personal symphony journeys through foreboding, anguish and despair before tragedy and repression are finally – and exultantly – overcome in the thrilling finale.

“Every time (Gavrylyuk) enchants the public with his incredible virtuosity and thought-provoking playing.” – De Telegraaf (The Netherlands)

RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No.2
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No.10

Asher Fisch conductor
Alexander Gavrylyuk piano (pictured)​​

More info: http://www.waso.com.au
Email: waso@waso.com.au

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