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symphonic concert


Saint-Saëns, Respighi

Charles Dutoit conducts the VFO in a programme guaranteed to play the Festival out with a bang, Mao Fujita joining them as soloist in Saint-Saëns’s dramatic Second Piano Concerto, before an orchestral fireworks show in the shape of Respighi’s three Rome-themed tone poems.


Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor Op. 22


Fontane di Roma
Feste Romane
Pini di Roma

Saint-Saëns was both a brilliant pianist and a brilliant organist, and his G minor Piano Concerto, composed within the space of three weeks in 1868, opens with a nod to both: solo piano with a dramatic pedal point, overlaid with initially spacious upper-register figuration which gradually accelerates into virtuosic cascades – after which the orchestra presents the first theme. The other two movements are then a playful, feather-light Scherzando and a racing tarantella. Respighi’s three Rome-themed tone poems, each in four movements, burst with the influence of his composition lessons with the great orchestral colourist, Rimsky Korsakov. Fountains of Rome (1916) first depicts the rural Valle Giula fountain at dawn, a pastoral oboe sounding through the early mist. Unconventional instrumentation in Pines of Rome (1924) includes the nocturne-like third movement’s closing taped nightingale song. Roman Festivals (1928) climaxes on La Befana, an orchestral showpiece of driving rhythms and dissonantly competing voices over which style and tempo turn on a dime, with a solo tenor trombone ‘playing’ a drunken merrymaker.