Author Topic: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)  (Read 92155 times)

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Offline Florestan

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #520 on: May 10, 2022, 09:27:37 AM »
If I remember right, the answer is: much shorter!

I don't remember the Hindemith; I have two recordings (both from the 1950s, Hindemith himself and Fricsay). There are 4 movements, each ca. 6-8 min.

Nothing even remotely similar to Rachmaninoff, then.
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Online LKB

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #521 on: May 10, 2022, 10:49:41 AM »

...Btw, which is / are your (plural) favorite performance(s) of this magnificent work?

https://www.discogs.com/release/15629363-Sergei-Rachmaninov-Alexander-SveshnikovState-Academic-Russian-Choir-USSR-The-Choral-Art-of-Alexander

https://www.discogs.com/release/2975366-Rachmaninov-The-Russian-Ministry-Of-Culture-Chamber-Choir-Valeri-Polyansky-Vespers-Mass-For-Mixed-Ch

https://referencerecordings.com/recording/rachmaninoff-all-night-vigil-op-37/

( Disclosure: Dr. Jermihov is actually one of my mentors. We worked, dined, partied and performed together from 1981 to 1983. The most intense, committed and uncompromising musician I've ever known. Therefore, l don't present this recording as an objective recommendation, though it is in fact highly regarded. )
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

Online Madiel

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #522 on: May 10, 2022, 12:55:19 PM »
Well, consider the alternatives. He wasn't going to call it just "Dances" and Dances for Orchestra is clunky and kind of dumb sounding. What's that leave? I don't see a need to read more into it. Occam's Razor.

Are you seriously claiming that no other adjectives were available for orchestral dances??

And yet, all of those other composers who somehow avoided it, what WERE they thinking?
« Last Edit: May 10, 2022, 12:57:28 PM by Madiel »
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Offline BasilValentine

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #523 on: May 11, 2022, 12:07:42 PM »
Are you seriously claiming that no other adjectives were available for orchestral dances??

And yet, all of those other composers who somehow avoided it, what WERE they thinking?

All he was trying to convey was that the dances were composed for a symphony orchestra, hence Symphonic Dances. Can you think of a clearer, more concise way to convey that information?

The term symphony orchestra was only in common usage for at most 50 years when Rachmaninoff composed the work, so for most of "the other composers who somehow avoided it" it wasn't an option. Do you have examples from the 20thc?
« Last Edit: May 11, 2022, 12:14:33 PM by BasilValentine »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #524 on: May 11, 2022, 12:14:30 PM »
Only on GMG will you have an argument over a title of a piece music. ;D A random, made-up example: "It shouldn't have been be called Last Spring, it should have been called Last Autumn because it sounds more like autumn than spring." with a reply "I think it should be called Last Spring, because this is the title the composer gave it. We should except it and move on." and this goes on ad infinitum.
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Offline BasilValentine

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #525 on: May 11, 2022, 12:18:17 PM »
Only on GMG will you have an argument over a title of a piece music. ;D A random, made-up example: "It shouldn't have been be called Last Spring, it should have been called Last Autumn because it sounds more like autumn than spring." with a reply "I think it should be called Last Spring, because this is the title the composer gave it. We should except it and move on." and this goes on ad infinitum.

The argument isn't about what to call the work. It's about whether the title Symphonic Dances was meant to convey that the work is really a symphony or whether it just means the obvious: written for orchestra. I think the answer is, well, obvious.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2022, 12:24:59 PM by BasilValentine »

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #526 on: May 11, 2022, 12:40:20 PM »
All he was trying to convey was that the dances were composed for a symphony orchestra, hence Symphonic Dances. Can you think of a clearer, more concise way to convey that information?

I can think of any number of ways to point out that people generally call them orchestras, not symphony orchestras. You yourself in explaining to Mirror Image what you say is obvious call it an orchestra. Not a symphony orchestra. To think, we could have had the Philharmonic Dances instead.

I do have to say I find your argument quite strange, on the one hand arguing that he couldn’t possibly use the word orchestral to indicate that they are for orchestra, and on the other insisting that it was important to indicate that they were for symphony orchestra (other orchestras keep out!). And part of your argument is based on the term being “only” 50 years old… which means that we don’t have a composer feeling the need to emphasise the symphony orchestra until the term has been around for generations and is old hat.

Plus of course a symphony orchestra derives its name from playing symphonies, which were around well before. Arguing that the piece of music gets its name from the players is the exact opposite of the historical process where the players got their name from the music.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2022, 01:10:27 PM by Madiel »
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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #527 on: May 11, 2022, 12:55:21 PM »
This is what Rachmaninov wrote to Eugene Ormandy. Make of it what you will:

“Last week I finished a new symphonic piece, which I naturally want to give first to you and your orchestra. It is called Fantastic Dances.”

Then he changed the name.
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Offline amw

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #528 on: May 11, 2022, 01:55:02 PM »
The Hindemith Symphonic Dances come close to being an untitled symphony as well, with an introduction and fugue, a scherzo, slow movement and finale, although this was something Hindemith did frequently (likewise in the Symphonic Metamorphosis, and there's no particular reason the Concerto for Orchestra is called that instead of a symphony either, or for that matter the two Sinfoniettas; Hindemith was uncomfortable with the title of symphony, despite writing six officially titled ones). But apart from Hindemith and Rachmaninov, the Grieg—and almost every subsequent set of "symphonic dances" I can think of—puts a lot more emphasis on the "dance" part. You can't very easily dance to the Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances.

That doesn't make it a symphony, of course. Just some additional context. Rachmaninov may or may not have known or cared much about the Hindemith example (although it was much more recent), but he almost certainly would have known the Grieg, and perhaps the two freestanding sets of "dances" by Kodály, among others. There was a rather common fashion in the early 20th century for writing "dance suites" (that may or may not have been particularly danceable) for orchestra. So "dance" had become almost completely divorced from actual dancing by this point, with freestanding suites not based on any kind of ballet or similar theatre work, and "symphonic" was also in the process of divorce from the idea of the symphony per se, with symphonic works now arguably being any piece for large orchestra.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2022, 01:59:19 PM by amw »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #529 on: May 11, 2022, 01:58:01 PM »
The argument isn't about what to call the work. It's about whether the title Symphonic Dances was meant to convey that the work is really a symphony or whether it just means the obvious: written for orchestra. I think the answer is, well, obvious.

I think you're fighting a fruitless argument and Madiel just supplied a letter written by Rachmaninov to Eugene Ormandy that throws your argument out the window. Anyway, my opinion is he could've called it Dance Suite and it wouldn't have made one bit of difference in how the work is perceived and has been received since it's premiere. If this work was meant to be called a symphony, he would've called it one. According to Wikipedia, the work is described as a suite for orchestra. That's good enough for me.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2022, 02:00:25 PM by Mirror Image »
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Online Madiel

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #530 on: May 11, 2022, 02:18:12 PM »
Maybe we should move on to the Etude-Tableaux  :laugh: :laugh:
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Offline BasilValentine

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #531 on: May 11, 2022, 02:21:20 PM »
I do have to say I find your argument quite strange, on the one hand arguing that he couldn’t possibly use the word orchestral to indicate that they are for orchestra, and on the other insisting that it was important to indicate that they were for symphony orchestra (other orchestras keep out!). And part of your argument is based on the term being “only” 50 years old… which means that we don’t have a composer feeling the need to emphasise the symphony orchestra until the term has been around for generations and is old hat.

Plus of course a symphony orchestra derives its name from playing symphonies, which were around well before. Arguing that the piece of music gets its name from the players is the exact opposite of the historical process where the players got their name from the music.

What petty nonsense. I never said he couldn't use the word orchestral. You made that up. I said Dances for Orchestra doesn't sound as good as Symphonic Dances.

Nor did I indicate that he was trying to exclude "other orchestras." You made that up too. I only said that "Dances" couldn't stand as a one word title.

As for your final ridiculous point: I didn't argue that the piece of music gets its name from the players. You made that up as well. The term symphony orchestra came into common use around 1890. The adjective symphonic as Rachmaninoff used it came into use around the same time. It's perfectly normal usage for the period.

I think you're fighting a fruitless argument and Madiel just supplied a letter written by Rachmaninov to Eugene Ormandy that throws your argument out the window. Anyway, my opinion is he could've called it Dance Suite and it wouldn't have made one bit of difference in how the work is perceived and has been received since it's premiere. If this work was meant to be called a symphony, he would've called it one. According to Wikipedia, the work is described as a suite for orchestra. That's good enough for me.

The letter you cite has nothing to do with the issue at hand. I said precisely what is in bold above in my first post. So we agree completely then!  :)



« Last Edit: May 11, 2022, 02:28:28 PM by BasilValentine »

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #532 on: May 11, 2022, 03:03:10 PM »
 ::) ::) ::)  ::) ::)
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Offline hvbias

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #533 on: May 11, 2022, 04:00:47 PM »
Absolutely correct. Extremely significant Dies irae is not the final quotation of the 3rd movement. That honor goes to "Blessed be The Lord", the 9th movement of the All-Night Vigils, at which point (of the SD, that is) Rachmaninoff wrote "Halleluja!" in the score. And at the very end of the score he wrote "I thank Thee, Lord!", echoing (perhaps unwittingly) Haydn and giving a clear indication of how this final work of his is to be interpreted: exactly as you wrote above.

Yeah I've never heard it as anything other than a triumph as well, it seems really hard to imagine it as anything other than that. One other interesting thing is in one of my favorite performances, Kondrashin has the glockenspiel playing quite a bit louder just before the final climax really driving home that victorious sensation. I've mostly heard it as more blended in other performances. But he also makes that last militant march start off darker than most before it eventually turns. 
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #534 on: May 11, 2022, 09:36:01 PM »
The Hindemith Symphonic Dances come close to being an untitled symphony as well, with an introduction and fugue, a scherzo, slow movement and finale, although this was something Hindemith did frequently (likewise in the Symphonic Metamorphosis, and there's no particular reason the Concerto for Orchestra is called that instead of a symphony either, or for that matter the two Sinfoniettas; Hindemith was uncomfortable with the title of symphony, despite writing six officially titled ones).
Yes, as I wrote above, there was a strong tendency among some composers to avoid the term symphony, probably because of historical baggage. The case of Hindemith is also a bit strange as he eventually used the term nevertheless but here one could argue that he also became more established and conservative compared to the 1920s. Whereas Rachmaninoff had no problems calling 3 symphonies symphonies, calling several tone poems not symphonies but "The Isle of the Dead" etc., so I figure he intentionally used the term he used. "Fantastic dances" sounds a bit silly to me (but it would also be an o.k. title) and I think "symphonic" would not merely express that they are for orchestra but also that they are more symphonic, weightier pieces than e.g. Dvorak's Slavonic Dances.
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I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #535 on: May 11, 2022, 11:30:16 PM »
“Fantastic” used to have something of a different meaning, linked to fantasy or to being “fantastical”. Nowadays it just means “really great”.
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #536 on: May 12, 2022, 01:58:52 AM »
Sure, Rachmaninoff certainly didn't mean "really great". In 1940 Rachmaninoff would have probably have thought of "fanciful", imaginative (like Stravinsky's "Scherzo Fantastique" or Berlioz) but maybe also of the more "technical" sense of formally free. Overall one should not put too much weight on such title. I mean "Paganini Rhapsody"? This might be comparaby free for a set of variations but it is fairly tightly organized for a "rhapsody"...
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Offline BasilValentine

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #537 on: May 12, 2022, 04:38:39 AM »
Yes, as I wrote above, there was a strong tendency among some composers to avoid the term symphony, probably because of historical baggage. The case of Hindemith is also a bit strange as he eventually used the term nevertheless but here one could argue that he also became more established and conservative compared to the 1920s. Whereas Rachmaninoff had no problems calling 3 symphonies symphonies, calling several tone poems not symphonies but "The Isle of the Dead" etc., so I figure he intentionally used the term he used. "Fantastic dances" sounds a bit silly to me (but it would also be an o.k. title) and I think "symphonic" would not merely express that they are for orchestra but also that they are more symphonic, weightier pieces than e.g. Dvorak's Slavonic Dances.

That makes good sense.

About composers avoiding the term symphony, I wonder if Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra might have been a case in point? There's something sad and lonely about singleton symphonies; The phrase "The Bartok Symphony" invites the thought: "Huh, only wrote one."
« Last Edit: May 12, 2022, 04:40:31 AM by BasilValentine »

Online Madiel

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #538 on: May 12, 2022, 05:28:04 AM »
That makes good sense.

That is literally what you have been ARGUING AGAINST for several days.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
« Reply #539 on: May 12, 2022, 05:45:11 AM »
That is literally what you have been ARGUING AGAINST for several days.

Indeed. This member flip-flops opinions faster than Donald Trump.
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