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Chill with Rachmaninov

Sergey Vasilyevich Rachmaninov (1873-1943)

Sergey Vasilyevich Rachmaninov was born at Semyonovo, Russiain 1873, the son of aristocratic parents. However, his father's extravagantlifestyle depleted the family's fortunes to the extent that they were forced tosell off most of their estate and move to St Petersburg by the time Rachmaninovwas nine. It was in this city that he entered the Conservatory on ascholarship.

The subsequent separation of his parents and failure ingeneral subject examinations brought about Rachmaninov's move to the MoscowConservatory, where he was under the strict supervision of Nikolay Zverev,under whom he developed much of his phenomenal talent as a pianist.

In 1891 Rachmaninov completed his piano studies at theConservatory and graduated the following year from his composition class. Inthe immediately ensuing years he enjoyed success as a composer but this washalted by the failure of his Symphony No. 1 at its debut performance in 1897.Unfortunately, it was conducted badly by Glazunov, apparently drunk at thetime, and then reviewed in hostile terms by Cesar Cui. This severely knockedRachmaninov's confidence and was a major cause of his depression. He was onlyable to return to composing after a course of treatment with Dr Nikolay Dahl, abeliever in the efficacy of hypnotism. The immediate result was the second ofhis four piano concertos, a work which has proved to be one of the mostimmediately popular of all he wrote.

Rachmaninov married Natalya Satina in 1902 and the yearsleading up to the Russian revolution saw him acquiring international fame dueto his continued successful activity as a composer and writer.

The Communist Revolution of 1917 brought many changes. Whilesome musicians remained in Russia, others, like Rachmaninov, chose temporary orpermanent exile.  Such estrangementforced him to concentrate mainly on performance and as one of the mostdistinguished pianists of the day, he was able to support his family but foundhimself with little time left for composition. He undertook demanding concerttours, dazzling audiences all over the globe, but eventually settled in theUnited States. Rachmaninov died in Beverly Hills in 1943.


Track 1 - Vocalise in E minor, Op.34 No. 14 (Cello andOrchestra)

Track 12 - Vocalise in E minor, Op.34 No. 14 (Cello andPiano)

Rachmaninov's Vocalise has a powerful attraction all of itsown, in whatever arrangement it might appear. As the title proclaims, it is awordless song with a startlingly simple crystalline motif. Rachmaninov wrote itfor the coloratura soprano Antonia Nezhdanova, whose voice was supposedly sobeautiful that any lyrics would be unnecessary. The melody is instantlymemorable and beautifully seamless.

Track 2 - Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op.18: AdagioSostenuto

Rachmaninov wrote his second concerto in 1900 and 1901 anddedicated it to Dr Nikolay Dahl, under whom he had undergone psychiatrictreatment that restored his creative urge. The concerto was met with greatenthusiasm when it premi?¿red in Moscow in November 1901 with Rachmaninov as thesoloist.

In this slow second movement the orchestra moves gently fromthe key of C minor to the remote key of E major, in which the soloist enters.The principal theme is introduced by flute and clarinet, before being taken upby the soloist. The more rapid central section of the movement suggests themood of scherzo, leading to a powerful cadenza.

            Ifyou would like to hear the whole of the Piano Concerto in C minor then try:

            8.550117      Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 (coupled withRhapsody on a

                                   themeof Paganini)

                                   JenoJando (Piano)

                                   BudapestSymphony Orchestra, Gyorgy Lehel

            8.550810       PianoConcertos Nos. 2 & 3

                                   BerndGlemser (Piano)

                                   PolishNational Radio Symphony Orchestra, Antoni Wit


Track 3 - Melodie in E

Originally for piano, and premi?¿red by the composer at aconcert in Kharkov on 28th December 1892, Melodie comes from a collection ofMorceaux de Fantaisie better known for the C sharp minor Prelude (No. 2). It isnotable chiefly for its melodic content, as its title suggests.

Track 4 - Morceaux de salon, Op.10: I Nocturne in A minor

Track 5 - Morceaux de salon, Op.10: III Barcarolle in G minor

Rachmaninov completed his set of seven Morceaux de salon inearly 1984, two years after he had finished his studies as a pianist at theConservatory and one year after his graduation from composition class. Thefirst of the salon pieces is effective in its mood of melancholy, establishedin alternating chords while the third is dominated by its opening melody andshifting harmonic accompaniment.

            Furtherexamples of Rachmaninov's Morceaux de salon can be heard on:

            8.553004       Morceauxde salon / Three Nocturnes / Four Pieces

                                   IdilBiret (Piano)

Track 6 - Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano, Op.19:Andante

While a number of Rachmaninov's solo piano compositions havebeen transcribed by others for cello and piano, he himself only wrote sevenworks for this combination of instruments. The 1901 Sonata was dedicated to therenowned cellist Anatoli Brandukov and premi?¿red by him, with Rachmaninovhimself at the piano. It comprises four movements but here only the enra
Disc: 1
Vocalise in E minor, Op. 34, No. 14
1 Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14 (arr. for cello and orche
2 Adagio Sostenuto
3 Melodie in E major, Op. 3, No. 3
4 Nocturne in A minor
5 Barcarolle in G minor
6 Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano, Op. 19: And
7 Larghetto
8 Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini: Variation 16
9 Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini: Variation 17
10 18th Variation (Somewhere In Time)
11 Adagio
12 Vocalise in E minor, Op. 34, No. 14
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