A panoramic view of Mussorgsky and a star turn from Benjamin Beilman in Higdon's Pulitzer Prize-winning Violin Concerto.
You’re playing the Paganini Rhapsody around Australia. Does the work have special meaning for you? I played it in teens first, very badly, in a half-learned sort of way with a youth orchestra somewhere in the Midlands. It was not a distinguished thing, so I put it aside. Not long after I’d won the Naumburg in 1985 I got a call from my manager who said, “Someone’s cancelled at the Hollywood Bowl in two days playing the Rachmaninov Rhapsody, can you go?” It was a great opportunity to play with the Los Angeles Phil, so I said “yes” and spent every hour I possibly could getting it into my fingers. It was a wonderful experience and it’s become part of my life since then. So what appeals to you about the work? It is a great piece – one of the most tightly constructed concertos in the repertoire. There isn’t an unnecessary bar in there, and it’s clever. Emotionally, it’s very satisfying, you feel a real journey from beginning to end. Musicologists and people who maybe don’t like Rachmaninov that much still find this piece impressive. Now I do like Rachmaninov, and I think the times have changed. People are