Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Vasily Petrenko conducting at Royal Philharmonic  orchestra

Rediscover the inspirations, emotions and personalities behind two great Romantic icons

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director Vasily Petrenko guides us through the music of Elgar and Rachmaninov.

When we say that an artist has become an icon, we mean it as a compliment. An icon is an image, and unchanging ideal – perfection, in other words, to be imitated and admired. 

But what happens when an icon becomes so familiar that we start to take them for granted? Then it’s time to look – and listen – afresh.

Take the chance to rediscover two icons of Romantic music – the Russian Sergei Rachmaninov and the Englishman Sir Edward Elgar. Both of these composers intended their music to touch the heart. 

‘There is music in the air,’ said Elgar, and as well as his two passionately autobiographical symphonies (as ambitious, and intimate, as anything by Mahler), the RPO performs two of his concert overtures that reveal very different faces of this most British of composers: the joker, the man of the people, the enthusiastic European traveller.

For Rachmaninov, meanwhile, the bells of old Russia ‘vibrated with human emotion’ and when you hear our performance of his superb choral symphony, The Bells, you’ll understand exactly what he meant.

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