It was the runaway success of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto that helped restore his confidence after the depression and writer’s block triggered by his First Symphony’s failure.
Marking the ASO’s first concert of the 2022 festival, Program Three juxtaposes the concerto—arguably the best-loved in the classical canon—with closely contemporaneous orchestral works by two of Rachmaninoff’s fellow pianist-composers.
Famed Polish virtuoso and statesman Paderewski is represented by the prelude to Act III of his opera Manru, the only work by a Pole ever staged at the Metropolitan Opera, and Busoni by his Piano Concerto.
A monumental rarity that draws on vast forces, including a choir, this was previously championed to acclaim by Botstein and the ASO at Carnegie Hall, where, as now, their soloist was Piers Lane, who brought “drive, athleticism and muscularity, certainly, but also lyricism and shapeliness” (New York Times) to Busoni’s fiendishly challenging score.
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873–1943)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18 (1900–1901)
Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860–1941)
Prelude to Act 3 of Manru, Op. 20 (1892–1901)
Ferruccio Busoni (1866–1924)
Piano Concerto in C Major, Op. 39 (1901–04)
Leon Botstein, music director
Piers Lane, piano
Bard Festival Chorale
James Bagwell, choral director