Rachmaninov’s First Symphony has a somewhat checkered history, in no small part due to a quite possibly drunk Glazunov conducting the first performance. Despite any initial unwelcome, it is now seen as a vibrant depiction of Russian civilisation and culture, recognised for its fluid, longing and expressive features. The English composer and academic Robert Simpson calling it ‘a powerful work in its own right…convinced, individual, finely constructed, and achieving a genuinely tragic and heroic expression’.
Balakirev was a member of Russia’s ‘Mighty Handful’, and Tamara is widely considered his greatest work. Described by The Telegraph as ‘a musical dream’ it is a sensuous and melodic work influenced by exotic and oriental culture, popular in the music of nineteenth century Russia.