An ominous mood looms over the orchestra as the piano plays the principal theme at the beginning of Piano Concerto No. 3.
The theme is a captivatingly simple one, with what many would describe as a Russian colour. But don’t be fooled. What follows is no ordinary Romantic solo concerto, but one of the most breakneck journeys a pianist can undertake. Many who harbour the ambition of performing this glorious milestone of a concerto have stumbled in the technical nightmare which awaits them. After the theme’s introduction, the soloist is cast out into a frenzied pursuit, confronting colossal chords stretching fingers to their limits, and passages of incredible rhythmical complexity. And if you are impressed by the technical difficulties of the first movement, just wait for the finale …
Rachmaninov was one of the most famous pianists of his time, and was the soloist during the world premiere of his third piano concerto in New York in 1909.
(In photo: Nikolai Lugansky, Photo: Marco Borggreve; Text: Thomas Erma Møller; Translation from Norwegian: Sarah Osa)
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