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.