Sunday Classics season starts with mighty Russian programme

Pianist Barry Douglas will join the Russian State Symphony Orchestra for the opening of the Sunday Classics season.
Pianist Barry Douglas will join the Russian State Symphony Orchestra for the opening of the Sunday Classics season.

Edinburgh’s Usher Hall gets its new Sunday Classics season off to a roaring start next month with some of the finest Russian music from one of the nation’s stand-out orchestras.

The Russian State Symphony Orchestra will take audiences on a spellbinding journey of heart-stopping romance; mischievous wit; and one of the most moving tales in the whole of ballet. They will be joined in part from the world-renowned Belfast pianist, Barry Douglas.

The Moscow-based orchestra has a peerless pedigree in the stirring, deeply expressive music of its homeland. Under conductor Valentin Uryupin, one of the most exciting young talents emerging from Russia’s fiercely competitive classical world, it’s a force to be reckoned with.

Uryupin and his Orchestra open with the unforgettable melancholy of one of the world’s best-loved ballet scores: Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

The dancers at the ballet’s premiere in 1877 protested at the piece’s difficulty to dance to – it was too rich and extensive to complement their movement. Despite this, today the piece is adored the world-over.

The Orchestra will also be joined by the multi-award-winning Belfast-born pianist Barry Douglas, who famously won the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition back in 1986 and has forged a global career with his remarkable mix of muscular power and exquisite poetry. His musical talents also extend away from the classical music world with his work with Celtic Orbit – a group he set up to play traditional music from Scotland, Ireland and Brittany.

He’s the soloist in Shostakovich’s sunny, funny Second Piano Concerto, a touching birthday present from the composer to his 19-year-old son, which sandwiches a soulful, dreamy slow movement between two movements of sparkling wit and energy.

Shostakovich himself visited the Usher Hall in 1962 as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, and his music has been welcome addition to any programme in the venue ever since.

The afternoon of music closes with the opulence of Rachmaninov’s epic Second Symphony, overflowing with ecstatic melody, and charting a passionate journey through romance to blazing triumph.

The Russian State Symphony Orchestra with Barry Douglas are at the Usher Hall on Sunday, October 14, at 3pm. Tickets are available at www.usherhall.co.uk