An Offering to Rachmaninoff: The Bells Choral Symphony and Romances

April 6, 2023 | Tchaikovsky Concert Hall
Subscription Series No. 71: “National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia”
Soloists: Lilit Davtyan, soprano
Anastasia Belukova, soprano
Alexei Neklyudov, tenor
Vasily Ladyuk, baritone
Chamber orchestra «Moscow Virtuosi»
National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia
Academic Grand Choir “Masters of Choral Singing”
Conductor – Vladimir Spivakov
Rachmaninoff – Strelnikov. Romances
Rachmaninoff. “The Bells”, choral symphony, Op. 35


The coming concert is part of festive events dedicated to the 150th anniversary of Sergei Rachmaninoff's birthday. For Vladimir Spivakov, world-famed violinist and conductor, Rachmaninoff has become the most beloved author, a lodestar, from his youth. During the present season, the Maestro and the NPR have been performing all symphonies and concertos by the composer, and his other masterpieces. However, the April concert stands alone: Vladimir Spivakov will direct his both collectives in a row.

In Part I, under his baton there will play the Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra. Especially for this concert the MVCO violinist Alexei Strelnikov, known for his fine arrangements, has made several orchestral settings of Rachmaninoff's romances. They include such gems of vocal lyrics as “Daisies”, “How Peaceful...”, “Sing not, O Lovely One...” and others. The singer will be Lilit Davtyan, an artist of the Bolshoi Youth Program.

In Part II, Vladimir Spivakov, the NPR and the Masters of Choral Singing will perform “The Bells” choral symphony inspired by Konstantin Balmont's free translation of Edgar Poe's poem. The choral symphony was written in the summer of 1913 to the text sent to the composer by an anonymous letter (later it was revealed that it had been from a young cellist Maria Danilova from Sevastopol). Edgar Poe's lyrical and philosophical contemplation over life and death, rendered through the symbolism of ritual bell sounds, was used by Rachmaninov as the base of his large-scale symphony with a chorus, where he implemented various musical means to convey different bell jingles. For instance, a new life is announced by a silver jingle, a wedding by a golden one, a fire by a copper one, and a death by an iron jingle. It is worth mentioning that emotionally rich psychological mundane depictions in Poe's poetry were of much greater interest to composer than his symbolism and mysticism. His opus, over which Rachmaninoff worked in a “feverish excitation” according to his own words, the author dedicated to the Netherlands conductor Willem Mengelberg and the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam.


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