My favorite playlists(2): Rachmaninoff

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This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Favorite Playlist

Nothing irritates me more than people telling me that I like Rachmaninoff because I am a pianist, when I actually prefer his chamber music, his concertos and symphonies to his solo piano music! Besides, he was a great harmonist, and even his piano music is orchestral. In this aspect he can’t be compared to Chopin, for example, an amazing pianist and composer for piano (besides the cello sonata and some exceptions) who didn’t show so much talent for orchestration – with all my respect. ;)
Anyway, I’m going to act like a typical pianist and start with one of the quite unknown Rachmaninoff’s pieces for piano, the Elegy, played by the composer himself:


Direct Link to YouTube [nrOp4TeG100]

Beautiful!

Probably the fame of his 2nd piano concerto and this overplayed Prelude in C sharp minor (I can’t stand it anymore, sorry!) aren’t helping Rachmaninoff’s reputation of being kind of kitschy. Some people even dare to call him superficial or Hollywoodian! Maybe the Hollywood movie’s soundtracks were actually the ones inspired by his great music, but it’s surely not otherwise. His long phrases are describing the Russian steppes, not the Grand Canyon! When you think about it, his music is so russian: bells, orthodox folkloric songs, King’s glory – one of his four hands pieces that I use to play is called Slava.

Anyway, enough talking, let’s keep on our journey with the 2nd Elegiaque Trio. The first one is much more famous, but I prefer this one by far. He wrote this work in memory of Tschaikovsky, and the piece is partly structured like his predecessor’s own trio: a huge first movement, a second movement with a theme and variations. My favorite part of the trio is the second movement, the theme seems to be inspired by an orthodox choral. But let’s start from its wonderful beginning:


Direct Link to YouTube [rnhyP-dbmM4]

What is this great power of the music? Now, being at the beginning of july, it made me travel to the snowy Siberian landscapes, feeling the cold blizzard on my face and my body… I played this trio some years ago during winter time in Salzburg, probably it reminds me the freezing rehearsals afternoons. I can’t wait to play it again!

Anyway, I relate very often a composer to a season, and Rachmaninoff is quite wintry; perfect to listen at a fire place watching the white trees…

Some people I met dared not to know the cello sonata, so in case you are a part of them, you will regret all the days of your life you didn’t get the opportunity to appreciate this masterwork:


Direct Link to YouTube [1U0hSsHhVZ4]

And yet to finish, two pieces I discovered today (what a shame!): the 2nd symphony that is one hour long, but worth the time dedication. After all, Bruckner and Mahler’s symphonies have the same timings and are much more popular, why? Because Rachmaninoff was just a pianist?…


Direct Link to YouTube [SvuitFzDxDg]

The other piece is also for orchestra, a scary representation of Rachmaninoff’s fear of death – well, I guess we humans are all quite afraid about that. Let’s point out his obsession about the Dies Irea, appearing in many of his works. The name is quite clear: the Island of Death.


Direct Link to YouTube [MVZWoE3_l4I]

After all those great works, if you still think Rachmaninoff is kitschy and only a piano freak… I can’t do anything for you!

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One Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Tsveti Peshevska
    déc 30, 2012 @ 23:20:48

    One big « Bravo! » for that playlist!

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