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VFJO / GAFFIGAN / ABDURAIMOV

Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev
James Gaffigan debuts as Music Director of the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra in this concert of Russian masterpieces bookended by two works inspired by Romeo and Juliet. The orchestra is joined by mesmerizing pianist Behzod Abduraimov.
Programme

PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY
Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy Overture

SERGEI RACHMANINOFF
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in A minor Op. 43

SERGEI PROKOFIEV
Romeo and Juliet Op. 64

 

Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet concert overture isn’t a programmatic retelling of the story, but a depiction of its characters and moods. Bookending the work is a sombre clarinet and bassoon melody representing the Friar, while most famous of all is its soaring lovers’ theme, which after a violent climax gets recast in newly tragic, minor-tonality guise. The 7th and 24th of Rachmaninoff’s glittering variations on Paganini’s 24th Caprice for Solo Violin then actually quote the Dies Irae, highlighting its similarity to the famous Paganini melody; and the Paganini is indeed so famous that the variations open playfully with what effectively is just its accompaniment, requiring us to mentally fill in the tune ourselves. Prokofiev meanwhile was so pleased with the melodies to his Romeo and Juliet ballet that he pulled three concert suites from its score.