Rachmaninoff Marathon of Virtuosity at the 72nd Ljubljana Festival and in Rotterdam

21. 03. 2024

A unique musical experience over two evenings awaits us as part of this year’s 72nd Ljubljana Festival. On 3 and 4 July we will have the opportunity to hear all four piano concertos by Sergei Rachmaninoff in two concerts at Cankarjev Dom, both beginning at 8.00 p.m.

The works will be performed by the celebrated pianist Mikhail Pletnev, who before coming to Ljubljana will complete the same remarkable musical feat over the course of three concerts in Rotterdam with Sinfonia Rotterdam from 15 to 17 April.In Ljubljana the great pianist will be accompanied at the 72nd Ljubljana Festival by the Concerto Budapest Symphony Orchestra, one of Hungary’s oldest orchestras.

Pletnev is one of the most influential artists of his generation, having taken his place as one of the stars in the piano firmament with his victory at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1978. He has received numerous accolades for his supreme interpretations and performances, including, in 2005, the Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance for his own arrangement of Prokofiev’s Cinderella as a suite for two pianos, which he performed together with Martha Argerich. He was also nominated for Grammy Awards in 2003 and 2004.

On the first evening he will perform the first two Rachmaninoff concertos under the baton of András Keller, the orchestra’s music director and chief conductor, who took up these positions in 2007, the orchestra’s centenary year. Pianist and orchestra will perform the Piano Concerto No. 1, which the young Rachmaninoff modelled on Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16, and the Piano Concerto No. 2, which established Rachmaninoff’s fame as an outstanding concerto composer and is still one of his most popular works today. The programme of the 3 July concert also includes a performance of Béla Bartók’s suite The Miraculous Mandarin.

The second evening’s concert will be directed by the Austrian conductor Alexei Kornienko, whose most recent appearance in Slovenia was at the 68th Ljubljana Festival with the Gustav Mahler Ensemble. The concert will open with Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, notoriously one of the most demanding works in the classical piano repertoire, before continuing with Bartók’s Hungarian Pictures, inspired by traditional Hungarian music. After the interval this extraordinary marathon will be brought to a close by Rachmaninoff’s more rarely performed Piano Concerto No. 4, in which the influence of jazz and, in particular, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, can be heard.