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: All-Night Vigil / Bruffy
Release Date: 03/10/2015   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 5148   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: Preludes & Melodies / Alessio Bax
Release Date: 06/28/2011   Label: Signum U.k.  
Catalog: 264   Number of Discs: 1
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Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No 1-4, Rhapsody / Wild, Et Al
Release Date: 06/24/2003   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10078   Number of Discs: 2
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Rachmaninov: Symphony No 2, The Rock / Noseda, BBC PO
Release Date: 03/30/2010   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10589   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Sonata for Piano no 2 in B flat minor, Op. 36

 

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
About This Work
Turning 40 in 1913, Rachmaninov began the year with respite from a grueling schedule of concerts in Moscow, where he was in demand as pianist and conductor. In December 1912, he left for holiday in Switzerland and moved on to Rome with the new year, Read more where he began in earnest the composition of his great choral work The Bells, setting an adaptation of Poe's poem by symbolist poet Konstantin Balmont. Two of his daughters contracted typhoid there, forcing an abrupt removal to Berlin for a hospital stay, before the family returned to their country estate, Ivanovka, in southern Russia. Composition of the Piano Sonata No. 2 occupied him from January into September of that year, concomitantly with orchestration of The Bells. To place the lush, late Romanticism of these works in perspective, one may recall that such foundation documents of Modernism as Schoenberg's Three Pieces for piano, Op. 11, had appeared in 1909, his Pierrot lunaire and Busoni's Sonatina seconda in 1912, while Stravinsky's Sacre du printemps received its premiere May 29, 1913. The Sonata No. 2 demonstrates in abundance those qualities of Rachmaninov's art that make his music permanently appealing, hence valuable, and great. The Allegro agitato opening seizes one by the hair with an arpeggiated plunge to the bass, two sharply peremptory chords (announcing the crucial interval of a third), and a falling, wailing figure in the left hand beneath tremolando triplets in the right, giving way to great waves of kinetic nervosité. It is the entrance of a great actor. Where the Sonata No. 1 indulged a luxuriant sprawl to play for over half-an-hour, the Second rushes past in about 20 tensely breathless minutes, its taut organization and formal elegance apt to be overlooked in its rhapsodic outpouring. Rachmaninov's 1931 revision -- the version usually heard -- cut 120 bars from the original, pared some of the virtuosic extravagances, and made for more transparent textures. The second movement, following without a break, works melancholy from nostalgic elegy to a fever before a slashing arpeggiated descent brings on the alternately anxious and towering finale -- with its snatches of a parodied march -- shot through with one of Rachmaninov's most compelling lyric inspirations confided first in single notes and valorized in the peroration in massive, surging chords before a final virtuoso wash of triumphant sonority. While its impeccable musical logic may be demonstrated, its impact -- in the hands of great pianist -- is compellingly visceral.

-- Adrian Corleonis Read less

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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 (Più 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 (Più 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 più vivo)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation XXI (Un poco più vivo)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 (2001 Digital Remaster): Variation XXII (Un poco più 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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