Sergei Rachmaninov (1873 - 1943)

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The Young Artist *20060419

Following the success of his one act student opera Aleko, and graduation from the Moscow Conservatory in 1892 Sergei Rachmaninov embarked upon a professional career as a composer.

Initially, he was forced to take on teaching jobs to supplement his income and write some money-spinning piano works, but gradually he was offered more performances of his music.

In 1897 though the premiere of his first symphony brought him the biggest shock of his career.

It was a complete disaster and the critics savaged it.

The experience devastated Rachmaninov who was then unable to compose anything for the next two years.

With Donald Macleod.

The Chorus of spirits

Russian State Symphonic Cappella

Nye poy krasáavitsa, pri mnye Do not sing to me fair maiden, Op 4, No 4

Alexandre Naoumenko (tenor)

Howard Shelley (piano)

Cello Sonata - second movement

Moray Welsh (cello)

Martin Roscoe (piano)

Spring

Tigram Martyrosyan (bass)

Russian State Symphonic Capella

Russian State Symphony Orchestra

Valery Polyansky (conductor)

Second Symphony - slow movement

Philharmonia Orchestra

Kurt Sanderling (conductor)

Were you Hiccupping, Natasha?

Sergei Leiferkus (bass)

01Early Career *20060418

Sergei Rachmaninov was born within earshot of a piano in the family home at Oneg, near Novgorod.

His grandfather had studied with the Irish pianist John Field and would sit most mornings playing pieces by Chopin, Mendelssohn and Field.

To begin with, Rachmaninov's family were well off, with extensive property holdings - five estates between them.

Gradually though, in main due to his father's mismanagement of the family affairs, the estates had to be sold off and by the 1880s their finances were in such a dire state that the family had to sell up and move to a cramped flat in St Petersburg.

It was there, at the age of ten, that Sergei Rachmaninov's musical path began in seriousness when he won a scholarship to the St Petersburg Conservatory.

With Donald Macleod.

Prelude in C sharp m, Op 3, No 2

Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)

Piano Concerto No 1, 1st movement

Royal Concergebouw Orchestra

Bernard Haitink (conductor)

Excerpt from Aleko

Maria Guleghina (soprano)

Sergei Leiferkus (baritone)

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Järvi

Piano Trio No 2 in Dm, 1st movement

The Borodin Trio.

02The Young Artist20060419

Following the success of his one act student opera Aleko, and his graduation from the Moscow Conservatory in 1892 Sergei Rachmaninov embarked upon a professional career as a composer.

Initially, he was forced to take on teaching jobs and write some money-spinning piano works to make ends meet, but gradually he was offered more performances of his music.

In 1897, though, the premiere of his first symphony brought him the biggest shock of his career.

It was a complete disaster and the critics savaged it.

The experience devastated Rachmaninov, who was then unable to compose anything for the next two years.

With Donald Macleod.

The Chorus of Spirits

Russian State Symphonic Cappella

Nye poy krasáavitsa, pri mnye Do Not Sing to Me Fair Maiden, Op 4, No 4

Alexandre Naoumenko (tenor)

Howard Shelley (piano)

Cello Sonata - second movement

Moray Welsh (cello)

Martin Roscoe (piano)

Spring

Tigram Martyrosyan (bass)

Russian State Symphonic Capella

Russian State Symphony Orchestra

Valery Polyansky (conductor)

Second Symphony - slow movement

Philharmonia Orchestra

Kurt Sanderling (conductor)

Were you Hiccupping, Natasha?

Sergei Leiferkus (bass)

03A Spiritual Homeland20060420

In common with his fellow country-men Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, Sergei Rachmaninov was able to draw upon the music of the Russian Orthodox church, as well as the diverse range of folk music encompassed by the vast lands of Russia.

Rachmaninov doesn't appear to have been religious in the conventional sense.

He didn't attend church regularly, but in 1910 he made a major venture into religious music when he wrote The Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.

Some five years later, he was moved to compose a setting of the All Night Vigil, a combined service in the Russian Orthodox church in which the evening office of Vespers flows on into Matins as one long service for Saturday night into Sunday morning.

It may be that the reason why Rachmaninov felt inspired to write this music lies in his earliest musical impressions visiting the beautiful St Petersburg churches with his grandmother, and listening to the beautiful singing.

With Donald Macleod.

Praise God in the Heavens, The Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, Op 31

Sofia Orthodox Choir

Miroslav Popsavov (conductor)

Excerpt from All Night Vigil

St Petersburg Chamber Choir

Nikolai Korniev (conductor)

Easter, from Suite No 1 for two pianos, Op 5

André Previn and Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)

The Bells, Op 35

Alexandrina Pendachanska (soprano)

Kaludi Kaludov (tenor)

Sergei Leiferkus (baritone)

Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia

Philadelphia Orchestra

Charles Dutoit (conductor).