Thursday 4 May 7:30 PM
A musician already tipped as ‘the next great Czech conductor,’ music director of the Prague Radio Sym-phony Orchestra Petr Popelka closes the season at the Grieg Hall with a stimulating splicing of other-worldy orchestral works by György Ligeti and orchestral fantasies from Richard Wagner’s monumental Ring cycle.
Wagner takes us on dramatic journeys. Siegfried’s jubilant, tripping journey down the River Rhine, high on life and love, is heard before the slow procession of his own funeral music.
Ligeti, meanwhile, gives us two studies in motionless. Apparitions was the Hungarian composer’s breakthrough work: a piece described by the composer as ‘static’ but which buzzes ferociously with pockets of sound. His most famous piece, Atmosphères – famously used in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey – takes the experiment of Apparitions even further. In this piece, instruments are treated like atoms of matter, suspended in a fog of sound that connects us to the vastness of the universe.
To open the season’s final concert, Yulianna Avdeeva joins the orchestra for something entirely different. When Sergei Rachmaninov heard the famous Caprice in A minor by the mysterious ‘devil’s violinist’ Paganini, he fell under the spell of its tonal to-and-fro and swaggering rhythmic shape. Rachmaninov soon set about teasing, twisting, refracting and elaborating the tune into a spectacular Rhapsody that is as virtuosic as it is diabolical.