Maki Sekiya wowed Hay Music audiences in 2021 and returns to Hay, this time with her pianist husband Ilya Chetverikov, in a programme spanning reflective and highly dramatic music for two pianos by French and Russian composers of the early 20th century. The programme features Debussy’s Blanc et Noir (1915), 2nd movement, Lent. Sombre; Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (1913), arranged for two pianos by the composer: Parts 1 & 2: Adoration of the Earth, The Sacrifice; and Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances Op 45 (1940), 2nd & 3rd movements: Andante con moto; Tempo di Valse and Lento assai – Allegro vivace.
Rachmaninov and Stravinsky were born within a few years of each other and had similar musical backgrounds. Oddly both suffered notorious first performances of early major pieces – the scandal around first performance of The Rite of Spring in 1913 is well documented but the first performance of Rachmaninov’s First Symphony some 20 years earlier was also considered a failure and the careers of both composers were significantly influenced by these experiences. Debussy, who was 20 years older than Stravinsky, first met him in 1910 and, despite very different aesthetics, they hugely respected each other’s music.