© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Relection: Visiting Russian journalist finds Russian romanticism here

USE THIS Powell Symphony Hall
Alise O'Brien | St. Louis Symphony

Journalist Irina Kisilenko has been visiting St. Louis Public Radio for the past several days. She is an editor and writer with “Samara & Gubernia” magazine. After hearing the St. Louis Symphony’s Rachmaninoff- Tchaikovsky concert, she shared the following impressions.

The Friday Coffee Concert at Powell Hall started with the world-renowned Second Piano Concerto – the most powerful and greatest work of Russian composer Serge Rachmaninoff. His singularly appealing style of music is expressed very clearly in the symphony’s rendition.

The style is commonly thought to have grown from late romanticism, but it was the product of substantial evolution and helped develop post-romantic traditions. Taken as the best achievements of impressionism and avant-gardism, Rachmaninoff’s 2nd still has no analogy in all the world’s arts.

Rachmaninoff is Tchaikovsky’s musical heir, and it is interesting to notice the differences in their music. Logically, it would have been better to open the concert with Tchaikovsky’s symphony (“Pathetique”) as a greatest exponent of Russian Romanticism. His work influenced the next generation of Russian musicians, included Rachmaninoff. The foundation of the work was theme “Russia and its fortune”; hence, passion, delicacy heroism, and tragedy all find a place in the piece.

This is a singularly Romantic attitude toward the art of composition, and it goes far to explain the enduring appeal of Tchaikovsky’s work. The Symphony No.6 “Pathetique” is constantly performed all over the world.

Juraj Valcuha conducted this concert; Andre Watts performed on piano.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.