Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)

Started by Chaszz, December 10, 2009, 04:35:52 PM

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George

Quote from: abidoful on August 17, 2010, 11:01:33 AM
I dislike those cuts and modifications--sanctioned by him or not-- beware, the two versions of the 2nd sonata are two totally different pieces!

There's a third by Horowitz as well.

jochanaan

Yeah, I prefer the uncut versions myself.  Sometimes the composer actually ISN'T right! :o ;D
Imagination + discipline = creativity

Saul

Quote from: Chaszz on December 10, 2009, 04:35:52 PM
Excuse me, but this composer seems to have a total of two or three self-pitying ideas which he recycles relentlessly and endlessly. Why is this papmeister played on classical music stations regularly, even respectable ones? Am I missing something?
Shall I armour myself against flames here?

He is the Russian Vivaldi...

Air

"Summit or death, either way, I win." ~ Robert Schumann

vandermolen

I can only find a thread on Rachmaninov's piano music, which I can't access. So here's a general thread. I think that sometimes people are a bit embarrassed to express an appreciation of Rachmaninov as there is (or was) the assumption (as with Tchaikovsky) that it is too populist and low-brow. I disagree and I think that 'The Bells' (oratorio after Poe) is a truly great score. I am listening to the Symphony No 1 (Slatkin version) on Vox, which is my favourite of the symphonies - I especially like the way in which the music topples into the abyss at the end, having threatened to do so throughout the symphony. 'The Isle of the Dead'. 'The Rock' and the 'Symphonic Dances' are other favourites.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Scarpia

Isle of the dead is a wonderful piece.  The Symphonic Dances, also.  The symphonies, a bit overblown at times.  Previn's set on EMI is a standard recommendation but Jansson's set of recordings with St. Petersburgh brings a wonderful Russian sound to the music.

Mirror Image

Quote from: Scarpia on November 08, 2010, 02:10:49 PM
Isle of the dead is a wonderful piece.  The Symphonic Dances, also.  The symphonies, a bit overblown at times.  Previn's set on EMI is a standard recommendation but Jansson's set of recordings with St. Petersburgh brings a wonderful Russian sound to the music.

I disagree that the Previn set on EMI is the "standard" recommendation for Rachmaninov's symphonies. I think Ashkenazy easily wins that nomination. I do agree that the Jansons set is recommendable. I also find the Svetlanov set recommendable to those more seasoned listeners who have already digested Ashkenazy's and Jansons' cycles.

DavidW

I love the Previn recording, but time after time I see on both reviews and forums that the Ashkenazy as the standard rec.  I don't hear Janssons as sounding Russian, I hear Ashkenazy in that mode.  Janssons is a very color, cosmopolitan take on the music.  Transparent, textured reveling in subtle detail for Jansssons.  Ashkenazy is the deep, emotionally stirring reading.  Well that's my take anyway.

Mirror Image

Quote from: DavidW on November 08, 2010, 03:28:52 PM
I love the Previn recording, but time after time I see on both reviews and forums that the Ashkenazy as the standard rec.  I don't hear Janssons as sounding Russian, I hear Ashkenazy in that mode.  Janssons is a very color, cosmopolitan take on the music.  Transparent, textured reveling in subtle detail for Jansssons.  Ashkenazy is the deep, emotionally stirring reading.  Well that's my take anyway.

Interesting take, Dave, the Ashkenazy Rachmaninov set (on Decca) gets heavy recommendations from fans and critics alike. The Jansons is good, but Ashkenazy, I feel, has him beat for sheer emotional directness and the playing from the Royal Concertgebouw (one of my all-time favorite orchestras) is outstanding.

Lethevich

Some more love for the gentle tone poem "The Rock" here.

Also, bump.
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

karlhenning

#90
Free to a good home, PM me if interested:

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Hm, second image seems not to fly: Symphony 3, Symphonic Dances; Mackerras, Royal Liverpool Phil

[ Both are good recordings; a matter of Space. ]

klingsor

I certainly agree with Vandermolen that Rachmaninov is a fine composer and that "The Bells" is a masterpiece. Recently I read a comment saying that those who have dismissed this composer usually change their mind after hearing this work. It's incredibly powerful orchestral music, thematically inspired and brilliant in its setting of the Constantin Balmont texts (after E.A. Poe). This work will haunt you long after you hear it.

The Third Piano Concerto is another masterpiece that is (I think) largely undisputed nowadays. Over the years I have heard all the standard rep piano concerti, along with many others, and Rach 3 really holds its own near the top of the list.

The 3 symphonies are also very good works (the Third being the most successful, imho), along with the Symphonic Dances (which is almost a symphony)

A highly accomplished composer, Rachmaninov has had to suffer the curse of being popular, due to a handful of pieces. Glad to see some admiration here.

mc ukrneal

Personally, what's not to like? Soaring and glorious melodies. Amazing technical difficuties (some pieces). Soulful music that connects more than most. I think the Bells and his operas are often overlooked - some wonderful music there. And for piano lovers, he's written some of the best preludes and etudes out there (not to mention sonatas). Speaking of which, here's a favorite:

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also found here
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Incidentally, I always thought that the Previn #2 was the reference version (or seemed to be), while the Ashkenazy set was the reference set. Regardless, I think both do a fine job bringing out the best in the music. It's been a while since I sat down to compare the two - might be a fun thing do one some future weekend (and I'll throw Pletnev into the mix, who seems to be divisive in this symphony).
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Florestan

Quote from: klingsor on April 12, 2011, 04:22:21 AM
A highly accomplished composer, Rachmaninov has had to suffer the curse of being popular

I guess Rachmaninoff is more popular for "All by myself" than for any complete work of his own;D

Popular, therefore good is a handbook fallacy, but so is its counterpart: popular, therefore bad.  :)

Quote from: mc ukrneal on April 12, 2011, 04:52:01 AM
Personally, what's not to like? Soaring and glorious melodies. Amazing technical difficuties (some pieces). Soulful music that connects more than most. I think the Bells and his operas are often overlooked - some wonderful music there. And for piano lovers, he's written some of the best preludes and etudes out there (not to mention sonatas).

Neal, you keep adding to the amount of beers I intend to offer you should we ever meet face to face.  :D
There is no theory. You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law. — Claude Debussy

Cato

Quote from: Lethe Dmitriyevich Shostakovich on January 07, 2011, 10:34:34 PM
Some more love for the gentle tone poem "The Rock" here.

Also, bump.

Yes!  I recall hearing it for the first time, perhaps in the early 1970's, and was amazed by its expressivity.

The Bells is another "unknown" and "under-rated" masterpiece: again, when I first heard it back in the 1960's, I could not believe that it was not better known.

People sometimes wonder what kind of music Prokofiev and Shostakovich might have composed, if Russia had been a free society.

The same guessing game applies to Rakhmaninov: more operas, more symphonies,more piano concertos?  Possibly he would not have had to wander the earth in search of his daily bread, if Russia had not been kidnapped to suffer under Communism.
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

Scarpia

Quote from: Cato on April 12, 2011, 06:53:05 AMPeople sometimes wonder what kind of music Prokofiev and Shostakovich might have composed, if Russia had been a free society.

If Russia had been a free society they may very well have become disillusioned by popular neglect produced less, or turned to commercially viable forms of music, i.e., Bartok, Korngold.  Prokofiev was living in a free society when he decided to return to Russia.

Florestan

Quote from: Il Barone Scarpia on April 12, 2011, 07:05:34 AM
If Russia had been a free society they may very well have become disillusioned by popular neglect produced less, or turned to commercially viable forms of music, i.e., Bartok, Korngold.

If Russia had been a free society perhaps Prokofiev would have turned to commercial music a la Bartok (whatever this might mean), but tens of millions innocents would have been spared their lives --- a perfectly balanced trade-off.  ;D

Quote
Prokofiev was living in a free society when he decided was lured to into returning to Russia.

Fixed.  ;D
There is no theory. You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law. — Claude Debussy

Scarpia

Quote from: Il Conte Rodolfo on April 12, 2011, 07:11:51 AM
If Russia had been a free society perhaps Prokofiev would have turned to commercial music a la Bartok (whatever this might mean), but tens of millions innocents would have been spared their lives --- a perfectly balanced trade-off.  ;D

Fixed.  ;D

I don't discount the suffering under the Soviet Union, but when I think of the people who suffered under that regime, Shostakovich and Prokofiev aren't the first to come to mind. 

Florestan

Quote from: Il Barone Scarpia on April 12, 2011, 11:12:24 AM
I don't discount the suffering under the Soviet Union, but when I think of the people who suffered under that regime, Shostakovich and Prokofiev aren't the first to come to mind.

Exactly my point.  :)
There is no theory. You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law. — Claude Debussy

Scarpia

Quote from: Il Conte Rodolfo on April 12, 2011, 11:44:59 AM
Exactly my point.  :)

Fine.  But the question was what effect the regime had on Shostakovich and Prokofiev.  At least in the case of Shostakovich, it imposed the constraint that the music had to sound happy to Stalin and sarcastic to anyone with half a brain.  It was a compositional challenge that Shostakovich seemed to find stimulating.  Prokofiev maybe not so much, most of his best music seems to come before he moved.