classical music

Víkingur Ólafsson: Pictures and Impressions

Part of Classical Season 2020/21

Southbank Centre artist-in-residence Víkingur Ólafsson has breathed fresh Icelandic air into the world of piano music.

His first solo recital of the season paints evocative, vivid pictures.

At its summit is Mussorgsky’s monumental depiction of artworks through music, Pictures at an Exhibition.

From the keyboard of his piano, the composer forged a new musical style, of which the most famous result is his promenade in sound through a series of vivid pictures, building to a weighty climax with the thundering ‘Great Gate of Kiev’.

The Russian composer’s music may sound monumental, but it is deeply human too – designed to transport its listeners to the scenes that inspired him.

First, Ólafsson takes us to France. Rameau and Debussy lived two centuries apart, but each was the foremost French keyboard composer of his time.

In Rameau’s works, we hear the intellectual made impassioned. Refinement and sensibility abound, yet the composer remained faithful to his assertion that ‘true music… is the language of the heart.’

Ólafsson splices dances by Rameau with the evocative, sensual music of Claude Debussy. With its sparkling play of colours, ravishing effects and poetic sensibility, there is simply no other piano music like it. Nor is there a pianist quite like Ólafsson.

The artist explains: 'This programme is partly a dialogue between two of my favourite composers, Jean-Philippe Rameau and Claude Debussy.

'I see them as musical brothers, kindred spirits even if one was 180 years older than the other. They were musicians of the future, who loved to stir things up.

'They were two uniquely gifted keyboard composers, two progressive and fiercely original musical thinkers who could capture incredibly evocative images through sound, adding to the experience by giving their works poetic and nuanced titles.

'I want to show Rameau as a futurist and I want to emphasise Debussy’s deep roots in the French Baroque... and in Rameau’s music in particular. The idea is that the listener almost forgets who is who.'

Performers

Víkingur Ólafsson piano

Repertoire

Debussy: Prélude from La damoiselle élue
Rameau: Le rappel des oiseaux; Rigaudon 1 - Rigaudon 2 et double; Musette en rondeau; Tambourin; La villageoise; Gigue en rondeau 1; Gigue en rondeau 2 from Suite in E minor, RCT.2
Debussy: Jardins sous la pluie from Estampes; Serenade for the doll; The snow is dancing from Children's Corner
Rameau: Les tendres plaintes; Les tourbillons; L'entretien des Muses from Suite in D
Debussy: Des pas sur la neige from Préludes, Bk.1
Rameau: La joyeuse; Les cyclopes from Suite in D, RCT.3; Entrée pour les Muses, les Zéphyres, les Saisons, les Heures et les Arts from Les Boréades arr. Olafsson for keyboard
Debussy: La fille aux cheveux de lin from Préludes, Bk.1; Ondine from Préludes, Bk.2
Rameau: La poule; Menuets 1 & 2; L'enharmonique; Les sauvages; L'Egyptienne from Suite in G major/minor, RCT.6
Interval
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition

Dates & times

27 Oct 2020
Approximate run time: 130 mins
Run times may vary, find out more

where

Queen Elizabeth Hall

Pricing

£10 - £45
Booking fee: £3.50 (Members £0.00)

Multi-buy discount

£10, £18, £25, £35, £45

Multi-buy discount
Book 3 to 4 events in the International Piano Series and save 10% on tickets, or book 5 or more events and save 20%. This discount is not available on Premium seats and only applies to multiple concerts bought in the same series, not across two or more series

Concessions

25% off (limited availability)
Find out more about our Concessions policy

need to know

Ticketing
Book 3 to 4 events in the International Piano Series and save 10% on tickets, or book 5 or more events and save 20%. This discount is not available on Premium seats and only applies to multiple concerts bought in the same series, not across two or more series.

Southbank Centre takes a strong view on secondary ticketing. We require the lead booker to attend (photo ID may be requested). Tickets can only be resold by Southbank Centre or one of its authorised agents.

Discounted student tickets are available from Student Pulse in the month before this concert. Some of these seats may be on the stage.

Download the Student Pulse app or register online.

Related events
Queen Elizabeth Hall at 6.15pm: pre-concert talk. Víkingur Ólafsson and Gillian Moore in conversation. Admission free.