Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto

Rachmaninov Festival

Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto


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18.45: Pre-concert talk by Frode Skag Storheim

In the winter of 1907, Rachmaninov received an anonymous package in the post. Inside was Konstantin Balmont’s Russian translation of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Bells. The composer had been on the lookout for an atmospheric text to set to music. Now he had one.

Balmont’s words seemed to reflect Rachmaninov’s fascination with the mysterious sound of bells while evoking the spirit of plainchant and the notions of fate and eternity that so preoccupied the composer. The vast choral symphony Rachmaninov wrote as a result charts a journey through life using the sonority of bells - from the slivery brightness of birth, the golden browns of marriage and the dark stillness of death to the muted serenity of final rest.

There can be no more spectacular opening to Bergen’s Rachmaninov Festival than a performance of this colossal work combined with the composer’s most technically astonishing piano concerto.