Rodion Shchedrin, doyen of contemporary Russian composers, wrote Symphonic Diptych in 2008 for Valery Gergiev. This compact and colourful operatic suite raises the curtain on three solo spots, of which Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo capriccioso (1863), explores the gypsy side of the violin.
Mendelssohn wrote his First Piano Concerto in Munich in 1831 for Delphine von Schauroth, who he said contributed to the score. The unusual fact is that the piano takes the lead right away, and keeps it – delicately, touchingly, dazzlingly – through the three linked movements. After Glitter and be Gay, the big hit from Bernstein’s 1956 operetta Candide, the pages of the 1001 Nights turn into the glorious colouring of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade (1888), music of oriental adventures enhanced into a symphonic poem.