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Siete qui: Home Festival Festival 2011 Do you like Rachmaninoff?
Do you like Rachmaninoff? PDF Print E-mail
If anyone decided one day to rewrite the history of music in the 20th century, Serge Rachmaninoff would probably find himself in a different position. The public loves him, pianists worship him, but the official critics’ tone is disapproval because he never toed the line of the new tendencies. This Russian composer remained faithful to himself, creating his own immediately recognizable language made up of instinct, gut feelings, spectacular virtuosity, rich gestures, and an ample understanding of how to make the best use of sound, projecting a sort of three-dimensional harmony that takes your breath away! This stopped him becoming a mere follow-up of the great Russian romantic tradition, though no-one could ever doubt that he was a romantic deep down.
To avoid making the mistake of considering Rachmaninoff simply as a thoroughbred pianist whose compositions were mainly intended to boost his own career as a soloist, it might be useful to note that his piano works have survived the test of time brilliantly. Vladimir Horowitz himself is a star witness, still holding the torch high.
The Trio élégiaque in D minor no. 2 op. 9 for piano, violin and cello, is an extensive, almost symphonic piece. The young composer wrote it in the autumn of 1893, grieving for Tchaikovsky, who he had revered. The piano dominates – how could it do anything else? – and the score frequently harks back to Tchaikovsky’s piano trio. The second movement for instance is a highly elaborate theme with variations; the main melody is based on La Rupe, a fantasia for orchestra composed a few months earlier.
The Sonata in D minor no. 1 op. 28 for piano, composed in Dresden in 1907, has never really become a firm repertory item. Rachmaninoff modelled it on Goethe’s Faust, the three movements introducing the three main personages: Faust, Margarita and Mephistopheles, and it is admittedly a bit prolific, occasionally reaching saturation point. The best way to enjoy it is to just bask in the passionate flow and give yourself up to the melodies, without bothering too much about the structure.

Massimo Viazzo