Until the last concert I hadn’t associated these two composers as having a dialogue. Now I do.
Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante defunte: lyrical, melancholic and introspective in mood was followed by two orchestral works of Rachmaninoff: The Second Piano Concerto and the Symphonic Dances. Rachmaninoff, who is known for his passionate music, invoked in me a melancholic and nostalgic mood. The Piano Concerto, with its bursts of sudden energy, was overall lyrical and sad. His Symphonic Dances, nostalgic,retrospective and dark, as though he knew that this would be his last composition… Then Ravel returned. His La Valse,
depicting the end of an era– the collapse of decadent Vienna– was
symbolized by its forever cheerful valses transformed into fright and
madness, concluding with sudden death:
I felt as though each composition was an introduction to the next,
creating finally a full circle: death of the exuberant valse, a very
public type of dance, connecting back to a personal slow dance which
could go on for eternity.
This was a perfect program. The excellent conductor, Charles Dutoit, the great pianist Garrick Ohlsson,
and above all the orchestra, created a spell of a bygone time. The
concert was titled "Evening of Romance". Was it? Or are we reminded
that romance will never last?