Rachmaninov: A monarch of the imagination.

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Rachmaninov?

I like him!
20
80%
He's okay.
4
16%
Don't like him at all.
1
4%
Never heard of him.
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 25

Ian Williams
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Rachmaninov: A monarch of the imagination.

Post by Ian Williams » Sat Jun 16, 2007 6:15 pm

Hello there everyone! I was just accepted to this forum by the administrator, and I'm glad to finally find a Classical forum. Many others are simply dead or not popular enough to have enough support.

Let me begin by telling you where my tastes fall. I am an 18 year old self-taught (since September, 2006) "pianist", and it was all inspired by a lonely concerto. Since I was four or so, Classical music has been part of me, but not most of the Romantic era. One day, rather by chance, I fell upon Sergei Rachmaninov's music: a (I am now aware) transcription of a vocal piece for orchestra, called "Vocalise". Intruiged as I was, I neglected his music for Mozart and Beethoven (I was about 12). Later, I discovered his Second Piano Concerto.

I was utterly blown away by the sheer force of his 1901 Concerto. From the bell like tones to the final cadence, the first movement is something utterly removed from other music. It is as if a single, undefinable emotion which defines humanity itself is inherent and obvious in this single movement of a single concerto. Perhaps I'm just a bit whacky, but that composer and this concerto have become my favourites of all time. There is a special significance attached to its ominous C minor. Rach 3 is also amazing, and his preludes, especially Op. 3 No.2, are power and beauty. In the end, I am a true Romantic on the sides of Scriabin, Rachmaninov, and the moodier end of Beethoven.

Does anyone else know and love Rachmaninov?
"The Return"

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Jun 16, 2007 6:22 pm

Wecome to the board, Ian. Kick your shoes off and set a spell. As one of a couple of Medieval Maniacs here, Rach ain't exactly my cup of of tea, but I do like his 1 Sym, the concertos, etudes, preludes, and the Symphonic Dances. There are many Rach fans here, so one should be along shortly to chat with you.
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Donald Isler
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Post by Donald Isler » Sat Jun 16, 2007 6:39 pm

I'm a big enthusiast of some of his works, and especially of the second and third concertos, and also of his Preludes, of which my teacher, Constance Keene, made wonderful recordings in the 60's.
Donald Isler

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Post by ch1525 » Sat Jun 16, 2007 6:59 pm

Welcome Ian! I'm glad to see another Rachmaninoff lover join the forums. He is without a doubt my favorite composer. I pretty much love everything he wrote.

P.S.
I had been meaning to post about this, but now would be as good a time as any. Has anyone ever noticed how similar one of the main motifs in Rachmaninoff's First Symphony is to that in the soundtrack of the movie Troy? It's quite alarming!

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Post by jbuck919 » Sat Jun 16, 2007 7:34 pm

Heartiest welcome to the board. I find much of Rachmaninoff admirable, the Corelli Variations being near the top of the list for me. We don't get many posts on R., so please follow up, and post on anything else you fancy as well.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Post by RebLem » Sat Jun 16, 2007 10:09 pm

Welcome to the board, Ian.

But you should know that Rachmaninoff always insisted that his name ended in two f's, not a v. Some others, like Prokofiev, seem not to have minded, but Rachmaninoff did, and I believe we should all respect that. Having said that, I note that ArkivMusic spells it with a v. :(

To me, Rachmaninoff is OK. My faves are the Paganini Rhapsody, Vocalise, the Cello Sonatas, the Isle of the Dead, and the Vespers.
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Ian Williams
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Post by Ian Williams » Sat Jun 16, 2007 10:17 pm

It appears that while in Russia, he spelled his name Rachmaninov. Once he moved to America after the Revolution, though, he substituted the "v" for two "f"s. As I prefer his period of music before the move from Russia, I spell it in the fashion it was during that time.
"The Return"

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Post by Wallingford » Sat Jun 16, 2007 10:26 pm

WELCOME!

To me, Rachmaninov will always be a greater pianist than composer--but believe me, no pianist, in MY book, could ever beat him. If you've never heard his RCA records of the 20s & 30s, you're in for just as big a treat, I promise.

Compositionally, I prefer Rachmaninov's RHYTHMICALLY AGRESSIVE side to his warmly lyrical side.....such things as the Symphonic Dances, the middle two movements of The Bells (based on Edgar Allen Poe's famous poem), the Humoresque in G for solo piano, the song Powder & Paint, the scherzo of the Second Symphony, and the symphonic poem Isle of the Dead.
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Post by Ralph » Sat Jun 16, 2007 11:03 pm

Welcome aboard. Hope you post often.
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Bösendorfer
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Post by Bösendorfer » Sun Jun 17, 2007 4:19 am

Welcome!

I like some of Rachmaninov quite a lot, at the moment particularly the cello sonata op.19, but also the preludes I've heard,
the Symphonic Dances and some music for 2 pianos. I haven't caught on so much to his concertos and symphonies so far...

And I'm curious to hear more of his own piano recordings! It seems he was quite amazing...

Florian

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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jun 17, 2007 5:43 am

Ian Williams wrote:It appears that while in Russia, he spelled his name Rachmaninov. Once he moved to America after the Revolution, though, he substituted the "v" for two "f"s. As I prefer his period of music before the move from Russia, I spell it in the fashion it was during that time.
I was confusing him with Prokoviev, er, Prokovieff, er Prokoffiev. Damn St. Cyril, er Kyril, anyway. :)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Ian Williams
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Post by Ian Williams » Sun Jun 17, 2007 8:17 am

You know, despite my huge affinity for this man, I have only heard two preludes, the four concerti, Vocalise, and Etude-Tableaux Op. 33. There is so much praise for "Isle of the Dead", and "The Bells/Vespers". Perhaps I should look into his symphonies as well. For some reason, Rachmaninov never seemed to be a symphonic composer in my eyes, but more for the concerto and singular form.

If his other works are truly as aggressive and "epic" in the heavy and grand sense, then I am in for a treat.
"The Return"

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Post by slofstra » Sun Jun 17, 2007 1:00 pm

One also doesn't hear much about the Fourth Piano Concerto. I have only one rendition, that of Rachmaninoff himself.

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Post by Chalkperson » Sun Jun 17, 2007 1:47 pm

slofstra wrote:One also doesn't hear much about the Fourth Piano Concerto. I have only one rendition, that of Rachmaninoff himself.
You can find all the concertos in the Decca Box of Valdimir Askenazy and Andre Previn's recordings...in fact some of Ashkenazy's best ever work is in his Rachmaninov recordings...

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Post by Chalkperson » Sun Jun 17, 2007 1:48 pm

Hey Ian, welcome to our little Virtual Community, you may have chosen the one Composer we can all agree on, well, nearly all of us... :wink:

This is a great Boxed Set, all Four of the Concertos and most of the solo pieces, but sadly not the Corelli Variations...

link

This companion box is excellent too, all the Orchestral Works including Isle of The Dead...

link

ps search out the Box Set of Rachmaninov's Own Recordings, that's a treat and a half...
Last edited by Chalkperson on Sun Jun 17, 2007 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Jun 17, 2007 2:15 pm

Ian Williams wrote:You know, despite my huge affinity for this man, I have only heard two preludes, the four concerti, Vocalise, and Etude-Tableaux Op. 33. There is so much praise for "Isle of the Dead", and "The Bells/Vespers". Perhaps I should look into his symphonies as well. For some reason, Rachmaninov never seemed to be a symphonic composer in my eyes, but more for the concerto and singular form.

If his other works are truly as aggressive and "epic" in the heavy and grand sense, then I am in for a treat.
You have to get the Symphonic Dances. I've always liked it. In an orgy of taped rebroadcasts, XM has played it 3 times in the last 48 hours. The Vespers are pretty darned good too.
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Post by Lance » Sun Jun 17, 2007 2:39 pm

Welcome Ian. I'm glad you made it to our boards.

I couldn't be happy without the music of Rachmaninoff. I love his music dearly. Corlyss mentioned the Symphonic Dances and his Vespers. There are many good recordings of the Dances. If you can find the Vespers on a Melodiya recording (once issued on Angel-Melodiya LPs), with Alexander Sveshnikov conducting the chorus, it will probably be one of your most-loved works by the great Russian master.
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Post by Chalkperson » Sun Jun 17, 2007 4:07 pm

Lance wrote: If you can find the Vespers on a Melodiya recording (once issued on Angel-Melodiya LPs), with Alexander Sveshnikov conducting the chorus, it will probably be one of your most-loved works by the great Russian master.
Yea Right, it was available on CD for all of twenty minutes... :cry:

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Post by Teresa B » Sun Jun 17, 2007 5:01 pm

Welcome, Ian! I like Rach (thus avoiding the "ff" vs "v' kerfuffle--or is it kervuvle?) very much.

His Preludes for piano are lovely--Opus 23 (I think) and Opus 32. check them out.

All the best,
Teresa
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Lance
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Post by Lance » Sun Jun 17, 2007 7:00 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
Lance wrote: If you can find the Vespers on a Melodiya recording (once issued on Angel-Melodiya LPs), with Alexander Sveshnikov conducting the chorus, it will probably be one of your most-loved works by the great Russian master.
Yea Right, it was available on CD for all of twenty minutes... :cry:
Well, it filled four LP sides when issued by Angel/EMI and nearly filled a CD to general capacity. I think the work lasts much longer than a mere 20 minutes. Perhaps you're thinking of some other work?
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Post by slofstra » Sun Jun 17, 2007 7:54 pm

I have this other Previn / Rachmaninoff set,

Amazon link,

without the 4th, unfortunately! And being Dutch, I avoid buying CD sets that overlap. This was one of the first classical CDs I bought, when I first began to get serious about classical music. Still one of my favourite Third's but the king of the hill right now is Volodos.

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Post by Chalkperson » Sun Jun 17, 2007 10:08 pm

Lance wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:
Lance wrote: If you can find the Vespers on a Melodiya recording (once issued on Angel-Melodiya LPs), with Alexander Sveshnikov conducting the chorus, it will probably be one of your most-loved works by the great Russian master.
Yea Right, it was available on CD for all of twenty minutes... :cry:
Well, it filled four LP sides when issued by Angel/EMI and nearly filled a CD to general capacity. I think the work lasts much longer than a mere 20 minutes. Perhaps you're thinking of some other work?
I was meaning that the CD is very rare, and difficult to find, that in collecterspeak it was only available for twenty minutes, after 20 minutes it was sold out, and then deleted, never to be re-issued... :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Post by Haydnseek » Sun Jun 17, 2007 10:26 pm

This is an outstanding Rachmaninov album:

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Post by anasazi » Sun Jun 17, 2007 11:40 pm

Although I have a number of Kocsis recordings of Debussy, I do not have any of his Rachmaninoff at hand, but will plan to do so. I do have Kocsis published piano transcription of the Vocalise. And no, I cannot play it. :)
So I need find a CD that includes this piece as well.

Speaking of the Symphonic Dances, there is also a two piano 4 hand version of this and at one time an excellent recording of it by Ashkenazy and Previn. On the Decca (London) label I think.

I'm pretty much a patsy for any Rach, but especially the concertos.
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Post by pizza » Mon Jun 18, 2007 5:25 am

This is a recording that should not be missed; at first view I thought it was a gimmick but when I heard it, I was completely overwhelmed by Pletnev's consummate artistry:

Mikhail Pletnev plays the Rachmaninov Piano

Beethoven Sonata for Piano No 26, 'Les adieux', Op. 81a. Chopin Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise, Op. 22. Mendelssohn Andante cantabile and Presto agitato. Rondo capriccioso, Op. 14. Rachmaninov Variations on a theme of Corelli, Op. 42. 9 Etudes-tableaux, Op. 33 - No. 6 in E flat minor; No. 8 in G minor; No. 9 in C sharp minor; 9 Etudes-tableaux, Op. 39 - No. 5 in E flat minor.

Deutsche Grammophon CD 459 634-2GH

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Post by Cyril Ignatius » Mon Jun 18, 2007 12:14 pm

Welcome to the Forum Ian. I too am a Rachmaninoff devotee. No single composer (with the possible exception of Tchaikovsky early on) was more instrumental in bringing me into classical music years ago. And yes, the 2nd Piano Concerto is a true masterpiece. And after that, his first and third concertos, Symphony #2, some short works for solo piano, a series of tone poems (I urge you to get a good recording of Isle of the Dead, Prince Rostislav, and of course, Vocalise), some of the other masterpieces he wrote.

Recently, Anna Netrebko released her "Russian Album" CD. Tracks 2 and 3 and a later track are Rachmaninoff songs. And they are sublime!

The question as to whether to Rachmaninoff was a better pianist or composer is an intriguing one that I'm not capable of answering. He flourished in both realms. I have a recording of him playing the 2nd and 3rd concertos. These aren't particularly good recordings, probably due to the technical deficienies of the recording itself, so judging is difficult. It is clear that audiences were fond of his playing. Apparently he found it annoying that audiences or concert promoters demanded the 2nd heavily but not the 3rd.
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Post by ch1525 » Mon Jun 18, 2007 12:42 pm

Not only was Rachy a great pianist and composer, but he was also a fantastic conductor!

Cyril Ignatius wrote:Apparently he found it annoying that audiences or concert promoters demanded the 2nd heavily but not the 3rd.
Don't forget how annoyed he got that he ALWAYS had to play the Prelude in C# Minor. One time as the audience demanded it he reportedly bellowed, "Oh, Must I?!" Of course, he played it anyway.

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Post by Wallingford » Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:35 pm

Another rhythmically aggressive Rachmaninov piano piece: Polchinelle (or Punch--as in Punch & Judy.....pleased as Punch!).

Yes, that's right, a musical depiction of the famous puppet-wifebeater who literally beat the devil himself. Goofy thing is, whenever I hear the Humoresque in G which I mentioned above, I instantly think of Punch! That's why I'm forever confusing the two pieces. Rachmaninov recorded both of these himself.
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