Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Classics "loose ends": From Russia with love -- music by Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky


Richter plays Rachmaninoff's "Polichinelle" (the French version of the commedia dell'arte character Pulcinella) in Moscow, January 1982.

by Ken

Once again, the deal this week is recordings that might have found their way into previous posts if they hadn't for one reason or another been unavailable at the time. Friday night we heard my first and still favorite recording of the Telemann G major Viola Concerto, which I thought had disappeared permanently, and last night we heard a recording of Mozart's Essultate, jubilate that had gone missing at the time I did my post in that infectiously joyous motet. Tonight we wallow in the riches of Russian Romanticism.


Back when we listened to Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto, I was doubly flummoxed.

First, I would have liked to offer the first recording I owned of the piece, the one the great Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter (195-1997) made in Warsaw in 1959 for DG, which I still love, and I knew I even had it on CD, but coupled with Richter's 1963 DG Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto with Herbert von Karajan and the Vienna Symphony. But that's another of those impossible-to-file CDs. I consider the two concertos of equal importance, and so have no obvious way to choose between filing it under "Rachmaninoff" or "Tchaikovsky" -- or perhaps in the pianist section under "Richter"? Or could it have been lying somewhere in an impromptu "waiting to figure out where the hell to file it" holding pen?

I still haven't solved that problem, but the CD has turned up. (Whew! I was sure that when I went to look for it again, I wouldn't be able to find it again. So here's the Rachmaninoff concerto:

RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
i. Moderato; Allegro
ii. Adagio sostenuto
iii. Allegro scherzando

Sviatoslav Richter, piano; Warsaw National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Stanislaw Wislocki, cond. DG, recorded 1959


Valery Gergiev conducts the Vienna Philharmonic in the sequence from Stravinsky's Firebird of the "Dance of Kashchei's retinue under the Firebird's magic spell," the "Infernal Dance," and the "Berceuse of the Firebird" at the 2000 Salzburg Festival. (The performances continues -- and concludes -- in the click-through.)

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At 5:55 PM, Blogger Kay Dennison said...

I love the Russian composers' passion! Thanks!

At 7:07 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Nicely said, Kay! I'm with you on that.

And those video Firebird excerpts seem to me to show us maestro Gergiev summoning some real passion, quite different from his usual "I'm really sincere about this music I'm conducting but I'm running late for my next gig" mode.



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