“The greatest on disc?” asked ‘Gramophone’ magazine when the Russian pianist Zlata Chochieva recorded Chopin’s ‘Études’ – and the same critic went on to praise “the most consistently inspired, masterfully executed and beautiful-sounding versions I can recall”. But no recording ever comes close to the live experience, and in this concert we get to hear all the freshness, insight and understanding of Chochieva’s way with Chopin in real life, as she joins guest conductor Karl-Heinz Steffens and the BBC SSO in the teenage Chopin’s love-song of a First Piano Concerto. It’s a bit of a theme: Robert Schumann wrote his second and sunniest symphony in the first flush of love for his new wife Clara, and the score is studded with profoundly romantic gestures. But light needs shade, and the evening opens in the dark realm of Tuonela – the underworld of Finnish legend, where a swan sings a deathless melody on slowly drifting waters. Sibelius’s tone poem is one of those pieces that sinks forever into the depths of your memory.
Prelude: 6.45pm in the Recital Room (free to ticket-holders, subject to seating availability): Music journalist Jessica Duchen introduces Schumann’s Second Symphony.
The concert will be recorded by BBC Radio 3, for broadcast at 7.30pm on Monday 10 February 2020. The presenter is Jamie MacDougall.