Wednesday Music: Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor

This week’s piece is one that I’ve seen performed in concert. No matter how much I enjoy listening to recordings, there’s something about a live performance that brings up one’s enjoyment of the music to another level. I heard this piece performed by going on an outing sponsored by my university for first-year students.

Anyway, enough about that. Here’s a bit about the music.

  • The composer, Sergei Rachmaninov (his last name is sometimes spelled Rachmaninoff), wrote this concerto in 1909 when he was still living in Russia. (He later fled the country due to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.) It’s considered one of the most technically challenging piano concertos in standard repertoire.
  • Rachmaninov himself premiered the concerto in the United States in November of 1909. He couldn’t practice it before leaving Russia, which meant that he didn’t really get to practice it much at all before performing it.
  • One odd thing I’ve always noticed about the recordings is Rachmaninov’s 1939 recording is at a noticeably faster tempo than recordings by people who aren’t the composer. I don’t know if there’s a reason for this or not, as I’m not a pianist and don’t have the strong connection with piano music that I do with violin music.

Since it’s by a Russian composer, I couldn’t help but pick a video with a Russian playing the solo part. 😉

Or click here to watch on YouTube.

If you want to hear Rachmaninov’s own recording, click here. It’s audio-only and the quality isn’t that great since it’s old.


6 thoughts on “Wednesday Music: Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor

  1. This is possibly my most favorite piece of music in the world. I’ve heard it live a few times. Unfortunately, I’ll never play it, because it’s much too difficult. 😞


    1. Oh no!! 😦 I wish you could play it. I know what you mean: there are some great violin concertos that I’ll probably never play because I don’t have the time to get up to that level needed to play them. Oh well, at least I can listen to them.

      I met a girl from my floor when I went to the concert for this piece. I asked her if she liked it and she said she did, but Rach 2 was always the one she preferred when she played. Apparently she was quite a good pianist and had played most of the Rachmaninov concertos…


      1. Wow, I think you have to have a world-class skill level to play the 3rd concerto well, and be pretty amazing to play any of them. I’ve never played much Rachmaninoff because my hands are too small and I don’t have the “oomph” required. 🙂 So I stick to Chopin, Mozart, Schubert and Bach. I can’t play when I’m in the truck- I miss it! Do you still play quite a bit?


      2. I don’t get to play as much as I used to because of work. :-/ But at least my violin is relatively portable—it would be quite difficult to lug around a big keyboard to play while on the road like you are! 😉


      3. I totally feel like we’re the same person sometimes. I wanted to play flute too! I begged my parents for flute lessons. Unfortunately, they told me that violin was enough. 🙂

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