All Rachmaninov this week, compliments of celebrated Russian Pianist Mikhail Pletnev and the Luxembourg Philharmonic, conducted by Juraj Valcuha in a concert given at the Philharmonic Hall in Luxembourg on December 3, 2015 and relayed by Radio France Musique.
Only two works (along with a Chopin encore) – Rachmaninov’s venerable workhorse the Piano Concerto Number 2 and his Symphony Number 2, both featuring the Luxembourg Philharmonic led by Valcuha.
Plentnev has had a triple-threat career of sorts – not only gaining wide recognition as a pianist, he is also a well-respected conductor and well as composer of some note. He won his first Gold Medal at the 6th International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1978 and went on to debut in the U.S. in 1979. Pletnev cites Rachmaninov as having a huge influence on him as a pianist. His work as a conductor is notable – beginning with his tenure as the Russian National Orchestras Principle Conductor in 1990 and making his recording debut as a conductor with that orchestra in 1991.
He has a considerable recording career, not only as a pianist but also as conductor – primarily recording for DGG as a pianist and the Russian label Pentatone as a conductor.
Juraj Valcuha is a relative newcomer, but no less active. Starting his career in 2003 as assistant conductor at the Orchestre national de Montpellier and the Opéra national de Montpellier. He has since gone on to positions with the RAI National Symphony in Rome and the Teatro di San Carlo opera, as well as guest conducting orchestras all over the world.
The concert this week certainly qualifies as an active entry in our Anti-Road Rage Wednesday – no doubt, you know the Rachmaninov pieces and can sing them in your sleep – but it’s nice to save yourself the trouble and just hit the play button and relax for the next 90 minutes. Easy and hassle-free, no?