Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony

Thumbnail    Pure Emotion

Wednesday 12 March 2014 at 7.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0600

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Mikhail Tatarnikov  conductor

Peter Donohoe  piano

Mussorgsky: A Night on a Bare Mountain 12′

Dohnányi: Variations on a Nursery Song 25′

Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 55′ Listen on Spotify Watch on YouTube

Think   Russian and you think epic. Rachmaninov’s Second is exactly that: a symphony   as grand and expansive as Russia itself, full-to-overflowing with some of the   most gorgeous love music ever written. It could have been written for our guest   conductor Mikhail Tatarnikov. And Dohnányi’s delightful Variations on a Nursery   Tune could have been written for today’s soloist – because our latest rediscovery   from 1913 demands both spectacular artistry and a cheeky sense of humour. Peter   Donohoe has both!


“I love both Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2 and Symphonic  Dances – come and hear some of the juiciest Cor Anglais parts in the repertoire!” (Rachael Pankhurst, Cor Anglais)

If you like this concert, you might also like:

Pictures at an Exhibition, Thursday   29 May

Thomas Adès: New Horizons, Wednesday   11 June

Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, Thursday   19 June



Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post: (for same programme – matinee)

Click here for full review

…     “This is a gem of a piece, once heard never forgotten. Throughout the variations the composer pays affectionate homage to so many near-contemporaries, Wagner, Brahms, Richard Strauss, Franck and Reger among them, all the while giving every player in a huge orchestra so much to reward them, and putting demands on the soloist which require awesome technique as well as wit and warmth.

And Peter Donohoe has these in spades. His pianism coruscated with rippling chords and figuration, and encompassed both the innocent as he unfolded the trite little “Twinkle, twinkle little star” tune after Dohnanyi’s massively imposing orchestral build-up, and the joyously collaborative: the way he waited an age to resume after the solo bassoon’s outrageously prolonged paused note near the end was a comedy to behold.”     …



Review by John Quinn, MusicWeb, SeenandHeard:

Click here for full review

…     As I’d hoped and expected Donohoe was an ideal soloist. Tatarnikov set the scene well with a suitably dramatic and portentous unfolding of the big Introduction. The moment when the full orchestra breaks off and the soloist plays the Twinkle, twinkle, little star theme like a child’s five-finger exercise is still one of the best musical jokes, no matter how often one has heard it and it raised an audible laugh from the audience on this occasion. Having got that out of the way Donohoe proceeded to have fun! He brought virtuosity and humour to the performance and the orchestra backed him up splendidly with some razor-sharp playing. Among the moments that particularly stood out for me was the seventh variation, the waltz. If I remember correctly from when I took part in a performance many years ago, this variation is marked mit Schwung (‘with dash’); that’s how it came across here, with Tatarnikov getting the orchestra to inflect the waltz with fine sweep and vigour, matched by Donohoe. The enterprising colours of Dohnányi’s orchestration in the ninth variation – including growling bassoons and tinkling xylophone – were vividly achieved. The great passacaglia (Variation 10) was built impressively and then the concluding fugato was a delightful romp – not for the first time I was put in mind of Tom and Jerry by this music. Just before the end I really enjoyed the delightfully droll bassoon playing of Julian Roberts. This was a splendid and thoroughly enjoyable performance of this sparkling work: I hope we won’t have to wait 35 years to hear it again in Birmingham.”     …

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