|Rachmaninov||Isle of the Dead, Op. 29|
|Rachmaninov||Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 18|
|Prokofiev||Symphony No. 5 in Bb major, Op. 100|
St John's, Smith Square, London SW1P 3HA
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Phone: 020 7222 1061
Following some initial success, Rachmaninov, prone to anxiety and depression, composed nothing for three years. With the Second Piano Concerto, composed between 1900 and 1901, Rachmaninov overcame his writer’s block and discovered his voice - unforgettable tunes, amazing pianistic effects, effortless ideas and style.
In May 1907, while in Paris to perform this piano concerto, Rachmaninov saw a reproduction of Böcklin’s painting The Isle of the Dead, depicting the arrival of a small boat at a desolate island seen across dark waters. It had a profound effect on the composer and the result, a few years later, was this wonderful symphonic poem.
World War II was raging while Prokofiev worked on his Fifth Symphony, completing it in a month during the summer of 1944, sheltered in an artists’ retreat outside Moscow. He described it at the time as "a hymn to free and happy Man, to his mighty powers, his pure and noble spirit" and we agree with him when he later declared it to be one of his best compositions.