Sergei Rachmaninov

Biography

Born: Apr 1, 1873; Russia   Died: Mar 28, 1943; USA   Period: 20th Century
Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninov, born in Semyonovo, Russia, on April 1, 1873, is today remembered as one of the most formidable pianists of all time and the last truly great composer in the Russian Romantic tradition. Rachmaninov came from a music-loving, land-owning family; young Sergey's mother fostered the boy's innate talent by giving him his first piano lessons. After a decline in the family fortunes, the Rachmaninovs moved to St. Petersburg, Read more where Sergei studied with Vladimir Delyansky at the Conservatory. As his star continued to rise, Sergei went to the Moscow Conservatory, where he received a sound musical training: piano lessons from the strict disciplinarian Nikolay Zverev and Alexander Siloti (Rachmaninov's cousin), counterpoint with Taneyev, and harmony with Arensky. During his time at the Conservatory, Rachmaninov boarded with Zverev, whose weekly musical Sundays provided the young musician the valuable opportunity to make important contacts and to hear a wide variety of music.
As Rachmaninov's conservatory studies continued, his burgeoning talent came into full flower; he received the personal encouragement of Tchaikovsky, and, a year after earning a degree in piano, took the Conservatory's gold medal in composition for his opera Aleko (1892). Early setbacks in his compositional career -- particularly, the dismal reception of his Symphony No. 1 (1895) -- led to an extended period of depression and self-doubt, which he overcame with the aid of hypnosis. With the resounding success of his Piano Concerto No. 2 (1900-1901), however, his lasting fame as a composer was assured. The first decade of the twentieth century proved a productive and happy one for Rachmaninov, who during that time produced such masterpieces as the Symphony No. 2 (1907), the tone poem Isle of the Dead (1907), and the Piano Concerto No. 3 (1909). On May 12, 1902, the composer married his cousin, Natalya Satina.
By the end of the decade, Rachmaninov had embarked on his first American tour, which cemented his fame and popularity in the United States. He continued to make his home in Russia but left permanently following the Revolution in 1917; he thereafter lived in Switzerland and the United States between extensive European and American tours. While his tours included conducting engagements (he was twice offered, and twice refused, leadership of the Boston Symphony Orchestra), it was his astounding pianistic abilities which won him his greatest glory. Rachmaninov was possessed of a keyboard technique marked by precision, clarity, and a singular legato sense. Indeed, the pianist's hands became the stuff of legend. He had an enormous span -- he could, with his left hand, play the chord C-E flat-G-C-G -- and his playing had a characteristic power, which pianists have described as "cosmic" and "overwhelming." He is, for example, credited with the uncanny ability to discern, and articulate profound, mysterious movements in a musical composition which usually remain undetected by the superficial perception of rhythmic structures.
Fortunately for posterity, Rachmaninov recorded much of his own music, including the four piano concerti and what is perhaps his most beloved work, the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (1934). He became an American citizen a few weeks before his death in Beverly Hills, CA, on March 28, 1943. Read less
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No 2 / Gabriela Montero
Release Date: 06/09/2015   Label: Orchid Classics  
Catalog: 100047   Number of Discs: 1
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Rachmaninov: All-Night Vigil / Bruffy
Release Date: 03/10/2015   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 5148   Number of Discs: 1
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Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos 1 & 4, Paganini Rhapsody / Trpceski, Petrenko
Release Date: 06/14/2011   Label: Avie  
Catalog: 2191   Number of Discs: 1
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Rachmaninov: Piano  Concertos / Stewart Goodyear
Release Date: 04/14/2015   Label: Steinway & Sons  
Catalog: 30047   Number of Discs: 1
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Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos 2 & 3 / Trpceski, Petrenko
Release Date: 03/09/2010   Label: Avie  
Catalog: 2192   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Concerto for Piano no 3 in D minor, Op. 30

 

Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.3 In D Minor, Op.30 - 1. Allegro ma non tanto
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.3 In D Minor, Op.30 - 2. Intermezzo (Adagio)
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.3 In D Minor, Op.30 - 3. Finale (Alla breve)
About This Work
Rachmaninov premiered the Third Concerto in New York with the New York Symphony Orchestra, led by Walter Damrosch, on November 28, 1909. The following January he played it with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Gustav Mahler. For many Read more decades, it was neglected by pianists and public alike, in favor of the more compact, more tuneful and structurally sounder Second Concerto. It is a deeper work, full of virtuosic hurdles and lengthy cadenzas. But it was undermined by cuts Rachmaninov was prevailed upon to make, which, in the short run, served to make it more programmable in concerts, but ultimately sabotaged its artistic value. Since the last quarter of the twentieth century, however, most performances of the concerto have been of the original version, which can run around 45 minutes. (Abridged renditions shaved as much as ten minutes off the score's total timing.)

The Third Concerto's first movement, marked Allegro ma non tanto, opens with the piano delivering a lively but solemn theme of Russian character, which then immediately begins to sprout new ideas. A yearning bridge passage leads to a rhythmic theme that slows and quickly takes on another melodic guise, a beautiful and typically Rachmaninovian one in its soaring and ecstatic manner. The main theme returns and a powerful development section yields to a lengthy cadenza, whose opening pages offer alternative versions for the soloist -- a lighter, more athletic beginning or a darker more chordal one. A restatement of the main theme and brief coda close this generally subdued and reflective movement.

The second movement Adagio is formally rather unique, with the main theme dominating most of the movement, and a brief scherzo-like section appearing near the end. The mood ranges from the melancholy of the main theme by the oboe to the ecstatic glory of its big restatements by piano and orchestra in the middle part of the movement. After the playful scherzo-ish music, the piano is given a brief but brilliant cadenza that leads directly into the colorful finale.

This movement, marked Alla breve, offers a typical Rachmaninov fast theme on the piano right off: it is related to the first movement's alternate theme and is rhythmically buoyant and catchy in its repeated notes. A rhythmic chordal passage harkens back to the rhythm heard at the concerto's outset, and a lovely theme, related to the first movement bridge passage, is presented, hinting at triumphant resolution. Following a dramatic, suspenseful buildup near the end the theme makes one final and absolutely triumphant appearance, after which the brilliant coda closes the work. The middle section of this movement recalls both main themes from the first movement and was once the most heavily cut section of the concerto.

Today, this concerto carries the nickname of "Rach 3," and is the most popular choice among piano competition candidates wanting to perform a virtuoso display piece.

-- Robert Cummings Read less

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Conductors

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Sergei Rachmaninov


WORKS
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.2 In C Minor, Op.18 - 1. Moderato
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.2 In C Minor, Op.18 - 2. Adagio sostenuto
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.2 In C Minor, Op.18 - 3. Allegro scherzando
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.3 In D Minor, Op.30 - 1. Allegro ma non tanto
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.3 In D Minor, Op.30 - 2. Intermezzo (Adagio)
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.3 In D Minor, Op.30 - 3. Finale (Alla breve)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Introduction (Allegro vivace)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation I (Precedente)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Thema (L'istesso tempo)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation II (L'istesso tempo)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation III (L'istesso tempo)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation IV (Piů vivo)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation V (Tempo precedente)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation VI (L'istesso tempo)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation VII (Meno mosso, a tempo moderato)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation VIII (Tempo I)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation IX (L'istesso tempo)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation X
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation XI (Moderato)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation XII (Tempo di Minuetto)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation XIII (Allegro)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation XIV (L'istesso tempo)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation XV (Piů vivo. Scherzando)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation XVI (Allegretto)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation XVII
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation XVIII (Andante cantabile)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation XIX (A tempo vivace)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation XX (Un poco piů vivo)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation XXI (Un poco piů vivo)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation XXII (Un poco piů vivo - Alla breve)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation XXIII (L'istesso tempo)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation XXIV (A tempo un poco meno mosso)
Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances, Op.45 - 1. Non allegro
Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances, Op.45 - 2. Andante con moto (Tempo di valse)
Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances, Op.45 - 3. Lento assai - Allegro vivace
1. Largo - Allegro moderato
2. Allegro molto
3. Adagio
4. Allegro vivace
1. Grave - Allegro ma non troppo
2. Allegro animato
3. Larghetto
4. Allegro con fuoco
Vespers (All-Night Vigil) Op. 37: Vosstanite...Slava svyatei - 1. Amin'
Vespers (All-Night Vigil) Op. 37: Priidite, poklonimysa
Vespers (All-Night Vigil) Op. 37: 2. Blagoslovi, dushe moya', Gospoda
Vespers (All-Night Vigil) Op. 37: 3. Blazhen muzh
Vespers (All-Night Vigil) Op. 37: 4. Svete tikhii
Vespers (All-Night Vigil) Op. 37: 5. Nyne otpushchaeshi
Vespers (All-Night Vigil) Op. 37: 6. Bogoroditse Devo
Vespers (All-Night Vigil) Op. 37: 7. Shestopsalmie
Vespers (All-Night Vigil) Op. 37: 8. Khvalite imya Gospodne
Vespers (All-Night Vigil) Op. 37: 9. Blagosloven esi, Gospodi
Vespers (All-Night Vigil) Op. 37: 10. Voskresenie Khristovo videvshe
Vespers (All-Night Vigil) Op. 37: 11. Velichit dusha moya Gospoda
Vespers (All-Night Vigil) Op. 37: 12. Slavoslovie velikoe
Vespers (All-Night Vigil) Op. 37: 13. Tropar': Dnes' spasenie
Vespers (All-Night Vigil) Op. 37: 14. Tropar': Voskres iz groba
Vespers (All-Night Vigil) Op. 37: 15. Vzbrannoi voevode
Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor: I. Allegro Agitato
Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor: II. Non Allegro - Lento
Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor: III. Allegro Molto


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