Romanticism in all its colours: epic scores that retell existential quests and the heroic struggle for enlightenment, with a concerto inspired by nature and simplicity.

This programme starts and ends in utter darkness, casting the moments of light and revelation in sharp relief. In his Overture, Wagner underscores Faust’s pact with the devil with music of fear and trepidation. After its famous sunrise, Strauss’s tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra fades into a question mark at the stroke of midnight.

Vasily Petrenko

Both give us heroes that are reaching desperately for enlightenment, either grappling with evil forces or declaring ‘God is dead’. For Faust the struggle is between faith, intellect and passion. For Zarathustra the prophet, only humanity can solve its own riddles.

This is German Romanticism at its headiest, with music that is both brooding and bold. Wagner’s ‘unending melody’ is the perfect match for Faust’s yearning and deep-held passions, while Strauss takes us in nine imaginative scenes from desolation to a mountain-top awakening and the dawn of a new understanding.

Mountains of a different kind define Grieg’s piano concerto, whose melodic richness echoes the beauty of the fjords. The finale is inspired by a folk fiddle dance that challenges how high the dancers can jump. This is a work that invites you to embrace the simpler pleasures in life.


  • Wagner Faust Overture
  • Grieg Piano Concerto
  • Strauss Also Sprach Zarathustra
  • Vasily Petrenko Conductor
  • Simon Trpčeski Piano
  • Date: 02 October 2022
  • Royal Festival Hall
  • Time: 7.30pm BST