Long Yu returns to the Philharmonia to conduct an all- Russian programme. Epic, towering, all-encompassing, Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto holds at its heart one of the most achingly beautiful slow movements of all time. Shostakovich’s Fifth is arguably the most dramatic and thrilling of the 20th century.
Composed under acute political pressure from Stalin’s regime, the symphony’s intention and meaning is a tangled mystery, but its musical power is extraordinary. The first movement is a mini-symphony in itself, moving from its oblique opening theme to mechanized pandemonium to a beautiful, yearning melody. A sarcastic waltz, elegiac slow movement and coruscating march-like finale lead to the final valedictory theme.