When his First Symphony flopped, Rachmaninov was plunged into a deep crisis. He wrote nothing for years, until the composer was promised that he would ‘work freely and easily’ after a short course of hypnotherapy. The therapist was right. Rachmaninov duly delivered his most sweepingly emotive piece to date, a work that heralded the rich, romantic but melancholic style with which he would make his name. It was, of course, his Second Piano Concerto.
If the Second remains Rachmaninov’s favourite concerto, the Second is also his favourite symphony - its rich textures and somber harmonies wrapping themselves around the composer’s tender melodies as the music smolders, flares and eventually propels itself towards a whirling climax. Two of Britain’s most distinguished musicians, Sir Stephen Hough and Sir Mark Elder, join us for this feast of Rachmaninov and more.