We never know when the next quickening will occur—that moment of communion with Beauty that ravishes the senses, that tingles our humanness and enlarges our world.

Such occurred last evening with the flick of the switch on my radio; it was Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30, composed in1909 on his family’s country estate in Ivanovka, Russia. When asked about the haunting lei-motif opening the first movement played by the pianist, the composer replied: “It had written itself.” Indeed, the lei-motif succeeds in piercing through the quotidian of life and transporting the listener into wordless realms of brilliant color, gossamer texture, and a passion tinged with Russian mysticism. Alternating woodwinds, brass, strings, and tympani from the Munich Philharmonic intermesh with the melodic line of the piano and heighten the drama. We are in the presence of something awesome and shimmering. We dare not leave.

However, the recurrence of the lei-motif in the third movement signals closure.

Before the resonance from the concluding notes fades, the audience roars; its thunderous clapping storms the domed ceiling of the Royal Albert Hall. I join them.