Extroverted vs introverted: the first symphonic concert of the 2021-2022 season delivers both the grand romantic gesture and coloristic refinement and stillness. With the impressive Second Symphony by Sergei Rachmaninov, the Opera Ballet Vlaanderen Symphony Orchestra pulls out all the stops for a dazzling live experience. Rachmaninov may be best known to the general public for his virtuoso and incomparably romantic Piano Concertos, but as the direct artistic heir of Tchaikovsky, the Russian maestro was also an outstanding symphonist. The Second Symphony shows Rachmaninov at the height of his powers. An unbridled lyrical élan, sweeping emotions, drama and a brilliant orchestration go hand in hand.

Just like Rachmaninov, in his Rückert-Lieder, Gustav Mahler invites listeners to lose themselves in the 'better world' of music. 'I live alone in my own heaven, in my love, in my song,' are the words of the highly intimate and dreamy Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, the best-known song in the cycle.


Intimacy and an otherworldly atmosphere are also rife in Debussy's erotically charged Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, after a poem by Stéphane Mallarmé. In the heat of a summer afternoon, a faun has a dream vision of two nymphs he has been chasing but who elude his grasp. Like Mallarmé, Debussy evokes the artist's creative imagination with the flute-playing faun and his desire to retain impressions, atmospheres and emotions forever.

Rachmaninov 2

Image: Tim Coppens

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