Wednesday, June 8, 2011

After Work - TSO concert

Photo credit
Tonight it was Rachmaninoff played by Yuja Wang - she received a standing ovation for her performance.  When Allen introduced her, he said she could well be the greatest living pianist. 

Born in Beijing in 1987, she moved to Canada to study piano at 14 and is becoming internationally known for her 'prodigious technique' and charismatic stage presence.  Being a knock-out doesn't hurt.  These performances were her TSO debut but she has already headlined with the London Symphony, La Scala, New York Philharmonic, and other venues of renown.  In October 2011 she makes her Carnegie Hall debut.

Piano Concerto No. 3  is the most challenging of Rachmaninoff's repetoire. It's been said this opus demands "a pianist with strength, dexterity, control, and stamina - and big hands" (Bazzana).   Yuja's fingers flew across the keys and she was literally lifting in the air as she played the last chords.  Very dramatic performance.

Rachmaninoff composed this in 1909 and played it on his North American tour (which included a 2 night stop in Toronto).  The 3rd was one of the last of his works composed in Russia.
The 1917 Russian Revolution meant the end of Russia as the composer had known it. With this change followed the loss of his estate, his way of life, and his livelihood. On 22 December 1917, he left St. Petersburg for Helsinki with his wife and two daughters on an open sled, having only a few notebooks with sketches of his own compositions and two orchestral scores, his unfinished opera Monna Vanna and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Golden Cockerel. He spent a year giving concerts in Scandinavia while also laboring to widen his concert repertoire. Near the end of 1918, he received three offers of lucrative American contracts. Although he declined all three, he decided the United States might offer a solution to his financial concerns. He departed Kristiania (Oslo) for New York on 1 November 1918. Once there, Rachmaninoff quickly chose an agent, Charles Ellis, and accepted the gift of a piano from Steinway before playing 40 concerts in a four-month period. At the end of the 1919–20 season, he also signed a contract with the Victor Talking Machine Company. In 1921, the Rachmaninoffs bought a house in the United States, where they consciously recreated the atmosphere of Ivanovka, entertaining Russian guests, employing Russian servants, and observing Russian customs.
 His busy concert schedule in North America left little time for composing. He died in Beverly Hills in 1943.

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