Recorded on 05/20/2008, uploaded on 01/20/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Rachmaninoff composed his
2nd sonata in 1913, starting it in Rome and finishing in Russia. The piece came
into being simultaneously with The Bells, and much of the same ideas can be
heard throughout this piece. The sounds of bells in various forms, from
the lightest and most radiant to darkest and dreary, permeate the piece.
In 1931 Rachmaninoff revised
the sonata, creating the version that is more frequently heard. Today you are
hearing the rarely played original version. The sonata is in cyclic
form; the entire work springs from one cell, the main
theme (the majestic opening motif of the first movement); the second theme
is, in fact, a lyrical shadow of the main theme as well as a hint of
Rachmaninoff's beloved Dies Irae, so
prevalent in The Bells. The extended, improvisational development section
leads into the shattering climax. The recapitulation leads to another
improvisational, whirling coda. The movement ends somberly.
It is possible to hear the
second movement as an extended variation on the melancholy theme. This theme, a
cross between the Dies Irae and the
opening motifs, sounds like entirely new material, and the writing throughout
the movement sounds improvised and spontaneous. The first movement's opening
theme is brought back toward the end of the 2nd movement, and another bell-like
cadenza leads into the quiet ending of the movement, moving directly into the
third without pause.
third movement, with march-like rhythms, lovely tunes and wild piano writing,
is effective, diabolically difficult and breathlessly exciting.
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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