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 Search Beat > Arts > Music > Styles > Classical Music > Featured Composer > Sergei Rachmaninov


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biography
Rachmaninov (1873-1943) was one of the all-time great pianists, and it's for that instrument that he wrote some of his most beloved compositions, including solo works and some of the most challenging concertos in the repertory. Rachmaninov's gift for romantically yearning melodies also permeates his symphonies and songs.
recommended recordings
Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos / Richter

Composer: Sergei Rachmaninov, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor: Stanislaw Wislocki, Herbert von Karajan
Performer: Sviatoslav Richter
Ensemble: Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Uni/Deutsche Grammophon - #47420 / February 13, 1996

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Although the late Sviatoslav Richter spent his later years concentrating on Bach, Beethoven, and Haydn, he never completely abandoned the music of his native country. His reading of Rachmaninov's most popular concerto, captured in fine late-'50s stereo, is one of the most glorious ever recorded. Richter's amazing technique is completely up to the demands of Rachmaninov's difficult writing, and he plays the heart-on-sleeve melodies with such refined intensity that they never sound sentimental....Read more


Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos / Martha Argerich

Composer: Sergei Rachmaninov, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor: Riccardo Chailly, Kiril Kondrashin
Performer: Martha Argerich
Ensemble: Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Uni/Philips - #46673 / August 15, 1995

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This is madness in action. Martha Argerich's Rachmaninoff Third is the fastest and most physically exciting you'll ever hear. She's recorded live, and the balances are a little strange as a result. You can also tell that Riccardo Chailly and his orchestra are having a hell of time trying to keep up with her, while anticipating what she's about to do next--but so what? This is as close as you can come to an experience of spontaneous combustion, and survive. The Tchaikovsky is, if possible, even...Read more


  Rachmaninoff: Piano Concertos nos 2 & 3 / Janis, Munch et al
Composer: Sergei Rachmaninov
Conductor: Enrique Jorda, Charles Munch
Performer: Alexander Brailowsky, Byron Janis
Ensemble: San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra
Bmg/Rca Victor - #60540 / April 9, 1991

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Over the years, I have listened to numerous renditions of the Rachmininoff 3rd Piano Concerto, Op. 30, such as, Horowitz, Van Cliburn, Ashkenazy, Kapell (my favorite) and Rachmaninoff, himself. And despite the changes in fashion and recognition of artists who performed this concerto, I sincerely find the 1957 performance with Byron Janis and Charles Munch conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra to be one of the most beautiful and compellingly passionate of them all. Sadly, there are no liner notes with this cd, nor is it even mentioned in current Penguin and Gramophone Guide books. Neverthless, I would buy this cd, even if it were in plain, brown paper. In addition, the 1958 performance of the Rachmaninoff, 2nd Piano Concerto, Op. 18 with Enrique Jorda conducting the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra is also superb.


Rachmaninov: Vespers / Chernushenko, St. Petersburg Cappella
Composer: Sergei Rachmaninov
Conductor: Vladislav Tchernushenko
Ensemble: St. Petersburg Capella
Russian Season (Fra) - #788050 / February 10, 1998

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Magical.
The choral singing in this recording is *the* finest I have ever heard. And this is very challenging music - in fact, any a capella singing is difficult. This choir has a very long and distinguished history - five hundred years old, sang the first complete performance of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, had Glinka as a choir director, etc - and an entire school of singing built around it. Every single note in this recording is full of rapt intensity - there are incredible harmonics, solidity - and...Read more


Rachmaninov: Symphony no 2 / Sanderling, Leningrad PO

Composer: Sergei Rachmaninov
Conductor: Kurt Sanderling
Ensemble: Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Uni/Deutsche Grammophon - #449767 / January 27, 1998

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This powerful, subjective reading, recorded in Berlin in 1956 when Sanderling and the Leningrad Philharmonic were on tour, has long been one of the classics of the catalog. It harks back to a different era both in its expressive urgency and in the notably flexible manner in which tempo is treated: an era in which passionate, spontaneous, all-out playing was a characteristic of many of the world's greatest musicians, nowhere more than in Russia. Sanderling and the Leningraders impart a high...Read more


Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini / Ashkenazy, Previn

Composer: Sergei Rachmaninov
Conductor: André Previn
Performer: Vladimir Ashkenazy
Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
Uni/Penguin Classics - #460632 / July 27, 1999

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Wonderfully lush and thrilling, this is the definitive performance of the 2nd concerto and the variations. The recording that made me abandon my petty disdain for performers who arpeggioed the chords at the beginning of the concerto rather than play them as solid, block chords.:) Ashkenazy has nothing but the deepest love for Rachmaninoff's music, and it can be thoroughly heard and felt throughout this entire recording.

works & recordings

  • Chamber Music
    Trios, Quartets, Quintets

  • Choral
    Secular and sacred choral music. Oratorios, Masses, Partsongs, Hymns, Carols

  • Instrumental
    Sonatas, Suites, Overtures, Minuets, Variations, Transcriptions, Dance Music

  • Orchestra
    Concertos, Symphonies

  • Theatrical Works
    Ballet, Stage, Incidental Music, Film Scores

  • Vocal and Opera
    Opera, Operetta, Song, Lieder, Musical Theater

Complete List of Works and Recordings

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Shopping and Product Search for
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