What is your favorite Rachmaninov symphony

Sergei Rachmaninov - the piano concertos

  • Among the new releases that I received in the mail on Saturday was a new recording of the second piano concerto in C minor and the Paganini rhapsody of Sergei Rachmaninoff, with Yuya Wang on the piano, accompanied by Claudio Abbado and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra:



    The Piano Concerto by Sergei Rachmaninoff, at least the concertos in C minor and D minor, are among the "classics" among the piano concertos of the Romantic period - and the number of recordings of these two concertos is correspondingly large. In contrast, recordings of the first and fourth piano concertos are far less common. If this can be explained by its status as an "early work" in the case of the first concert, it is astonishing why Rachmaninoff's last concert is played far less often. The shadow cast by the two previous sister works is certainly only one possible explanation. A question that could certainly be discussed in the further course of the thread; +)

    The following brief descriptions of the concerts are only intended as sketches and impulses - additions are welcome; +)

    Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 1:

    Strictly speaking, not the composer's first piano concerto. Before that, Rachmaninoff began with a concerto in C minor, which, however, was not completed. The layout of the concert is in three movements, the movement names are:

    Vivace
    Andante Cantabile
    Allegro Scherzando

    The musical model for this work, which Rachmaninoff composed at the Conservatory, was Grieg's Piano Concerto. This close reference to Grieg's Concerto is probably one reason why this work is comparatively seldom heard. In 1917 the composer subjected the concerto to a thorough revision, a process that can be observed more often in Rachmaninoff, for example in the second piano sonata.

    Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, op.18

    Rachmaninov began composing his second concerto for piano and orchestra in the autumn of 1900 and completed the composition in April 1901, and under the direction of Alexander Siloti, Rachmaninoff performed the concerto himself on October 27, 1901. The success was extraordinary, to this day the concert is one of the composer's most popular works. The piece is dedicated to Nikolai Dahl, the doctor who treated Rachmaninoff after the composer fell into depression in 1897. One of the causes was the public failure of the first symphony.

    The form of the concert follows the classic scheme, the sentence names:

    Moderato
    Adagio sostenuto
    Allegro scherzando

    The beginning of the concert with the hammer-like blows is extremely distinctive, the second movement with its melancholy main theme is likely to be the most popular, which goes extremely well in the ear, as is the "snappy" finale.

    Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, op.30

    Among the piano concertos of Rachmaninoff, in general among the piano concertos of the Romantic period, "Rach 3" enjoys a special status, which is not least due to the technical difficulties, but maybe the experts can write something about it later; +)

    The concert was performed in the autumn of 1909 at the family estate, Ivanovka. Rachmaninoff finished the work on September 23, 1909. The work is dedicated to the pianist Josef Hoffmann, who never performed the concerto in public. The premiere took place on November 28, 1909 in New York, with Racjmaninoff on the piano.

    The form of the concert is in three movements, the names of the movements are:

    Allegro ma non tanto
    Intermezzo - Adagio
    Final: Alla Breve

    More about the recordings of this and the other concerts later; +)


    Piano Concerto No. 4, in G minor, op.40

    In contrast to its two predecessors, Rachmaninoff's fourth piano concerto is heard less often, undeservedly, in my opinion: even if it is thematically less catchy, it is in no way inferior to its sister works. The composer completed the concerto in 1926, and when the premiere did not bring the hoped-for success, Rachmaninoff revised the concerto for the first time before it was published in 1928. Another revision took place in 1941 in American exile. The concert is dedicated to Nikolai Medtner, who in return dedicated his second piano concerto to Rachmaninoff.

    The sentence names:

    Allegro vivace
    largo
    Allegro Vivace


    Recordings:

    There are many recordings of the concerts in C minor and D minor in particular, so I would just like to briefly refer to a few recordings:

    Richter's recording is an absolute classic as far as the C minor concerto is concerned:




    There are several extraordinary recordings of the D minor Concerto:

    Martha Argerich under Riccardo Chailly:



    or Vladimir Horowitz:



    Horowitz recorded the concert several times. The recording by the composer himself should also not be missing:



    For me, an absolute classic among the recordings of the second and third concerts is the recording Byron Janis:



    This is not the original cover, I can't find this version right now, but maybe someone can help out ....; +)

    Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli earned the fourth piano concerto:



    Among the new recordings I would like to recommend the recordings of Boris Berezowsky, who recorded all four concerts on two CDs:



    So now it's your turn!



    Christian
    Rem tene- verba sequentur - Rule the thing, the words will follow

    Cato the Elder
  • An addendum to the discography of the piano concertos. Van Cliburn's recording from 1958 is considered a classic among the recordings of the Third Piano Concerto:



    However, I don't know the recording myself, but maybe someone can help out with some impressions? ; +)




    Christian
    Rem tene- verba sequentur - Rule the thing, the words will follow

    Cato the Elder
  • I wouldn't describe the beginning of the second concert as "hammer-like blows" (pianissimo after all), but it is very unique and distinctive. You may think what you like about Lang Lang's recording (DG), but he made this beginning interesting (even if "wrong" because Halbe = 66). he wanted to demonstrate the bell-like beginning of this very clearly.
    Is it even interesting to look at these eight chords:

    imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg…Concerto_No.2_-_Mov.I.pdf

    there is a chord per measure and the lowest available f is always added in the middle of the measure.
    Most of the chords are too bulky for the hands, so they have to be arpeggiated. The pianists come to very different solutions to this arpeggio problem, listen to different recordings ...

    My favorite recording of the second concert has "always" been the Richter recording of the DG.
    His path is lost in the bushes, behind him the bushes collapse.
  • Caesar73 wrote:

    Van Cliburn's recording from 1958 is considered a classic among the recordings of the Third Piano Concerto:

    However, I don't know the recording myself, but maybe someone can help out with some impressions?

    With the Symphony of the Air under the direction of Kyrill Kondrashin (recorded in 1958), Van Cliburn offers a more lyrical version of the work - not a thundering of keys à la Horowitz. I really appreciate Cliburn's recording. My favorite recording of Piano Concerto No. 3, however, is a different one: Emil Gilels with the Orchester de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris under the direction of André Cluytens (recorded 1955)

    There is really no better way to play the piano. Since the Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 by Saint-Saens, with the same contributors, is a direct hit, in my opinion this Gilels / Cluytens CD should be on every CD shelf.

    Remarkably, the two Soviet piano giants, Svyatoslaw Richter and Emil Gilels, did not get in each other's way in the four piano concertos by Rachmaninoff. Richter only played Nos. 1 and 2, Gilels only Nos. 3 and 4. That I consider the Richter recordings of the Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 to be unmatched should not surprise anyone who knows my passion for this pianist. At No. 3 - as I said - Gilels rules for me and at No. 4 Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. There are, however, a large number of outstanding recordings of all four works, e.g. (in addition to Rachmaninoff's own recordings and in addition to the pianists I mentioned Cliburn, Richter, Gilels and Michelangeli) by Horowitz, Gieseking, Moiseiwitsch, Kapell, Oborin, Cherkassky, Pletnjew , Kocsis, Gawrilow, Kissin, Volodos ... You could depict dozens of CD covers. But the thread is still young. Therefore, I will initially limit myself to Richter with the Piano Concerto No. 1 in a recording from 1955 with the Great Radio Symphony Orchestra of the USSR, conducted by Kurt Sanderling, and with the Piano Concerto No. 2 in a recording from 1959 the Leningrad Philharmonic under the baton of - also - Kurt Sanderling

    The Polish recording of the Piano Concerto No. 2 with Richter and the Symphony Orchestra of the National Philharmonic in Warsaw, conducted by Stanislaw Wislocki, from the same year my previous speakers have thankfully already mentioned and illustrated. It really leaves nothing to be desired. Personally - but these are really just nuances - I slightly prefer Richter / Sanderling.

    I'm really looking forward to Yuja Wang, whose latest CD opened this thread. On January 27, 2012, she will play Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3 in Hamburg in a concert by the NDR Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andrej Boreyko
    [ndr.de/orchester_chor/sinfonie…e/hamburg/boreyko103.html]
  • Schwaben-Power also gets the rach concerts very well! Bernd Glemser, who comes from the Tuttlingen area, has made a brilliant recording that, for me, belongs to the side of the classics already mentioned here. I am particularly impressed by his version of the D minor Concerto - one wonders why the work was previously called unplayable and why it was called the "Elephant Concerto".

    My special recommendation is for the 4th Concerto in G minor, the criminal neglect of which cannot be explained logically.





    Cheers,

    Lavine
    “I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.
    Oscar Wilde
  • Maybe it's a listening habit, maybe also my personal preference for such an accomplished and versatile musician, but my favorite recording is this one:



    The sound is just very familiar to me, the CD accompanied me through bad times

    I don't know the recording with Yuya Wang yet; Since I heard her live in Berlin this year at Prokoffiev's 3rd concert, I'm at least skeptical and didn't want to invest in this direction at the moment ... I'm curious about the opinions.
    Lucius Travinius Potellus
    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. (B. Franklin)
  • ThomasBernhard wrote:

    I wouldn't describe the beginning of the second concert as "hammer-like blows" (pianissimo after all), but it is very unique and distinctive.


    But you can also hit softly and gently with a hammer; +) OK, you're right

    The concerto begins with a chord in pianissimo, for the following bars the composer then notates poco a poco cresc, i.e. a gradual increase in volume up to two forte. I also find the contrast between the introduction by the solo piano, in which the soloist initially only plays full, descending chords in the right hand, while in the left hand the chord is accompanied by a note identical to the first seven bars:

    [Blocked graphic: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0f/Rachmcncno2.jpg]

    like a throbbing, which then increases in volume and intensity, and the moment when the orchestra kicks in. And it is precisely this introduction that Yuya Wang succeeds in doing very well, in my opinion: the gradual increase to full forte.



    Christian
    Rem tene- verba sequentur - Rule the thing, the words will follow

    Cato the Elder
  • For me one of the strongest moments in my CD cabinet; I cannot escape this increase.
    Lucius Travinius Potellus
    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. (B. Franklin)
  • Travinius wrote:

    For me one of the strongest moments in my CD cabinet; I cannot escape this increase.


    I feel the same way - this prelude unfolds a real pull.



    Christian
    Rem tene- verba sequentur - Rule the thing, the words will follow

    Cato the Elder
  • And then the brilliant Wild / Horenstein recordings, which were made between 1965 and 1967, are particularly recommended:

    Dear Lionel.
    the wild recordings are also my favorites, especially in the case of the first and fourth concerts and the Paganini Rhapsody.

    It is unbelievable for me that this complete recording of all concerts and the Paganini Rhapsody for Readers Digest - and I would like to correct you there - was made within 2-3 days in May 1965. (1967 is the date of the Macdowell recording which is included in the third concert)
    That was a snap shot from a provider who made cheap recordings for its members (just Readers Digest) (the legendary Charles Gerhardt was the producer), which at that time were not intended for public sale.

    No more and no less.
    But with Horenstein (who incidentally couldn’t like Rachmaninoff, it speaks for the immense quality of this conductor that he nevertheless made some still valid and benchmark recordings of Rachmaninoff’s works), the brilliant Earl Wild, the great Royal P.O. as well as sound engineer Kenneth Wilkinson and Gerhardt as producers achieved a great moment at that time.

    I guess: On average, one concert per recording session a maximum of 3 hours, if at all.

    Of course, there are also errors on it (unfortunately especially in the 2nd concert) which could not be corrected for reasons of time.

    But what an achievement:

    Especially the recordings of the 1st and 4th concerts are my absolute favorites.
    Both in terms of sound and interpretation.
    Timeless, like it was made yesterday, a piano sound to make you kneel down, one of the best piano recordings of all time!

    Still, despite great competition from glossy productions from e.g. Zimmerman.
    And I like the fourth concert here even better than the legendary Michelangeli recording.

    I got to know the 1st and 4th concert in the mid-1970s, when the recordings of Philippe Entremont under Ormandy were constantly broadcast on the radio.

    And yes, these recordings are still among the best when it comes to these concerts!
    It's gotten pretty quiet around those CBS recordings from the 60s.

    But the young Entremont was a giant, he was in no way inferior to a Byron Janis.
    And his Rachmaninoff recordings are still top notch and I strongly recommend them.



    Michael
  • I would like to mention one more "hit" in relation to the piano concerto No. 2: William Kapell - one of the greatest pianists of all time, who with the Khatchaturian piano concerto (and Serge Koussevitzky as a congenial partner at the conductor's desk) is perhaps the best piano concerto - Record of the story submitted

    Hello music lover,
    I sign THAT with 1000 copies !!
    : vv:
    Michael