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Elégie is the fifth ‘Composer Portrait’ concert to be compiled and scripted by Lucy Parham.
Known internationally for her ‘Composer Portraits’ in words and music, pianist Lucy Parham created a new programme in 2016. It chronicles the life of composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff. Though he became an exile in 1917, Russia remained deeply rooted in his soul. His cultural identity and his longing for his homeland imbue his music, not least the many much-loved works he wrote for his own instrument, the piano. The narrative, scripted from letters and diaries, follows Rachmaninoff from his youth in Russia, through his subsequent self-imposed exile in 1917 and finally to California USA, where he died in 1943.
The programme includes many of his best- loved works for solo piano, including a selection of Preludes, Etudes-Tableaux and Moments Musicaux, some of his own transcriptions and the haunting Elégie, as well as works by Scriabin and Tchaikovsky.
Elégie was first performed in Lucy Parham’s Word/Play series at Kings Place, London in 2016 and in March 2023 it received its Wigmore Hall debut – in the week of Rachmaninoff’s 150th anniversary.
Recent and forthcoming venues include Wigmore Hall, Barbican Centre, Petworth Festival, St George’s Bristol, Chichester Festival Theatre, Music at Galway, Belfast International Arts Festival, New Ross Piano Festival Ireland, Athenry Festival, St John’s Smith Square, York Festival, Canterbury Festival, Summer Music in City Churches Festival, Fairlight Hall Celebrity Series, Dora Stouzker Hall, Holt Festival, Wimbledon Literary Festival, Landeillo Festival, South Downs International Festival, Winchester Festival, Guildford Festival, Algarve Concerts Series, Chipping Campden Festival, Cheltenham International Festival, Ludlow Festival, Salisbury Playhouse, Kings Place, Lower Machen Festival, Sheffield University Concert Series, Dorchester Arts Series, Rose Theatre Kingston, Milton Combe Festival, Halesworth Arts Festival, Apex Bury St Edmunds, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Ulverston Festival, Hertford Theatre, Stratford upon Avon International Festival and Cambridge International Summer Festival.
In 2023 Elégie will tour widely for Rachmaninoff’s 150th anniversary. London performances include Wigmore Hall, Kings Place and Barbican Centre, as well as many festivals and theatres.
Actors narrating and reading Rachmaninoff’s words include Henry Goodman, Simon Russell Beale, Dominic West, Robert Glenister, Tim McInnerny, Edward Fox, Alex Jennings, Lloyd Owen and Alistair McGowan.
The CD (on the Deux-Elles label) was released in 2018, with Henry Goodman narrating. It was chosen by Andrew McGregor as CD of the Week on BBC Radio 3’s Record Review and CD of the Month by Pianist Magazine.
There are two version of Elégie. The shorter version is 80 minutes with no interval; there is also a full-length 95 minute version, plus an interval.
“From the opening Elégie Op. 3 to the closing Moment Musical No.6 Parham and Goodman between them paint a loving, 100 -minute portrait of the ever-melancholic Rachmaninoff”
***** 5 stars
“This is the crowning glory of Parham’s Composer Portrait series”
***** 5 stars
“Narrated snapshots of Rachmaninoff’s life interspersed with Parham’s soulful playing. Henry Goodman captivates.”
**** Four stars
“A superb evocation of the life and music of Sergei Rachmaninoff.
The design of the listening experience is skillfully and subtly structured, and the manner is engaging and intimate, so that the great Sergei himself seems to be recalling his life for us as we listen.”
“There is nothing more satisfying than listening to great music, beautifully performed, while, at the same time, learning a little about the world in which it came into being and about the people who created it.
Lucy Parham’s concerts offer just that – a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours.”
“These wonderful concerts are so cleverly organic because the composers become alive again. This happens before your eyes and it transforms the musical experience for the audience.
The composers speak directly, frankly and intimately about the secrets of the lives shared and, coupled with the superb playing of Lucy Parham, their music is transformed”
“These composers are frequently heroes of mine. It is fascinating to try and embody them. I learn a lot about them that I didn’t know previously. And I get to hear some beautiful piano music, inspiringly played, at very close quarters”
“I feel so fortunate to be able to work with a musician like Lucy, such a brilliantly accomplished and sensitive artist. I certainly take inspiration from hearing such undeniably great music up close and personal, as it were. It has been a huge privilege to be a part of Lucy’s recreations of the lives of Chopin, and Debussy, and now Rachmaninoff”
“I love doing shows with Lucy. I read the fascinating lives and letters of great composers and then get to hear their music, played on a beautiful piano by a truly miraculous performer”