Presenter: Katie Derham
The final offering this week from the Ulster Orchestra's annual BBC Radio 3 Summer Invitation Concert Series, "Postcards from Russia." Today's programme features Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto and Tchaikovsky's Third Symphony.
Prokofiev completed his Piano Concerto No. 2 in April 1913, while he was still a student at the St Petersburg Conservatory. He premiered it in the same year but this version which "left listeners frozen with fright, hair standing on end" was lost in a fire during the 1917 Revolution. Prokofiev reconstructed the work from his sketches and re-premiered it in Paris in 1824, where, yet again, it failed to please the audience. It is impossible to know how different the reconstructed work is from the original but Prokofiev claims to have taken advantage of everything he had learned during the ten years: "It was so completely rewritten," he wrote to friends in Moscow, "that it might almost be considered No. 4." Prokofiev had written his third piano concerto in the intermitting years - the work with which toured extensively - and he hardly ever played Piano Concerto no. 2 again.
Today's featured Tchaikovsky symphony is the Symphony No. 3 in D major Op. 29, "Polish" which was composed in between two of his most popular works: the First Piano Concerto and Swan Lake. The nickname "Polish" is a bit of a red herring. While the Second Symphony is known as "Little Russian" because it makes prominent use of Ukrainian folk tunes, the Third features a polonaise as its finale but as a stylised dance rhythm rather than an expression of national colour.