On Thursday evening, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra opened a program of all Russian music featuring the young Daniil Trifonov on piano. Lead by Maestro Semyonn Bychkov, this concert includes Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 1 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 65. A very heavy concert, but this program comprises the composer’s lesser known, or perhaps middle-child-syndrome compositions. Rachmaninov’s piano concerto, for example, was started in 1890 at the impressive age of 17 and wasn’t completed until 1917, after his third piano concerto. These two works give a glimpse of a budding composer with unmatched command of the piano (Rachmaninov) and a tortured composer trapped in a time of war (Shostakovich).
Pianist Daniil Trifonov is thrilling to watch, he showed complete command over Rachmaninov’s incredibly full score. His solo moments during the second movement were played so softly, you could see the audience lean in. His performance was so beloved that after three standing ovations, the young virtuoso performed a solo encore. While holding his final chord, the room fell to silence. This was shattered by an eruption of cheers from the audience.
This Russian program is both easy and challenging for the concert goer. Symphony No. 8 clocks in just over an hour in length. But amidst all of the explosive passion, Maestro Bychkov pulls out the tender threads of the symphony’s shattered optimism. This symphony also features many solo moments where the audience hears the individual talent of its symphony members.
The series continues on Friday, April 17 at 1:30pm, Saturday, April 18 at 8:00pm and Tuesday, April 21 at 7:30pm. Tickets are available at www.cso.org.
Photos by Todd Rosenberg.