When describing Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Yuja Wang said she hears many sound worlds unfolding over the work’s 24 variations: the shadowy darkness of Mussorgsky, the transparent clean structure of Mozart, some moments reminiscent of Chopin’s Préludes, and others still that feel like a jazz jam session between piano and orchestra. All gives way to the enchanting melody made famous by Somewhere in Time and more than a few opportunities for the soloist to show off, a challenge Yuja Wang has shown she’s more than up to.
In the second half, Dudamel leads one of Rachmaninoff’s most loved works that he wrote while living in the United States. Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances was the composer’s final orchestral work and drew on his life’s work with nods to sacred chants and his own earlier music while looking forward to the new harmonic language of the 20th century.
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