Classical Music | Piano Music

Sergei Rachmaninov

Sonata No. 2 in b-flat minor, Op. 36  Play

Inna Faliks Piano

Recorded on 05/20/2008, uploaded on 01/20/2009

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

Sonata No. 2 in b-flat minor, Op. 36 (Original 1913 version)        Sergei Rachmaninov

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.

The third movement, with march-like rhythms, lovely tunes and wild piano writing, is effective, diabolically difficult and breathlessly exciting.

I. Faliks