The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (246): Rachmaninov mourns Tchaikovsky

 

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  • Somehow it reminds me of the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio op. 50, a memorial to Nikolai Rubinstein. Am I alone?

  • Beautiful music by a composer, who through his very popularity, is sadly underrated in the pantheon of musical geniuses.
    Viva Rachmaninoff!

  • There is a attractiven tradition of Russian memorial piano trios with examples by Arensky, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Goldenweiser, and Shostakovich among others.
    Goldenweiser wrote a memorable one for Rachmaninof and recorded it with Oistrakh and Rostropovich, a longvariations movement such as the one in Tchaikovsky’s trio.

    This of Rachmaninoff’s is well-played in an initially swimming acoustic, with the piano lid on short stick and the string players sitting very close to it.

    Collectors value versions of Tchaikovsky’s trio by Rubinstein-Heifetz-Piatigorsky, Richter-Kagan-Gutman, and the live first movement by Horowitz-Stern-Rostroopovic, a reminder that Horowitz, Milstein, and Piatigorsky performed trios in the West after emigrating from Russia. There’s a photo of them on bicycles in Italy. . Later Milstein and Horowitz recorded Brahms’s third sonata.

  • Well wait a minute here, N.L. This is the first (of two) “élégiaque” Piano Trios by Rachmaninov. He wrote it in 1892 and gave the first performance that same year. Tchaikovsky was still very much alive and active.

    It is Rachmaninov’s second “élégiaque” Trio, an entirely different piece, that was written to mourn Tchaikovsky. It is not clear that the first of the “élégiaque” Trios was written with any particular person in mind to mourn. There is no question about the second one.

    It has always seemed to me that Russian composers were particularly influenced and impressed by Schumann’s inclusion of a funeral march in his piano quintet, because many prime examples of Russian chamber music, not just the specific “memorial” piano trios but also Tchaikovsky’s third string quartet (the funeral march from which Tchaikovsky also arranged for violin and piano) and the largo movement from Tanayev’s piano quintet, have this funereal/elegiac quality. Both of the Rachmaninov piano trios are “élégiaque” but there is also Rachmaninov’s Suite No. 1 for Two Pianos (the movement marked “Tears”). That Suite (also called a Fantasy) is dedicated to Tchaikovsky but again, Tchaikovsky was still alive when it was written, so the Tears movement does not mourn Tchaikovsky either. In fact Rachmaninov told Tchaikovsky in the fall of 1893 how productive his summer had been, listing many works including the Fantasy/Suite, and Tchaikovsky could only shake his head and admit he’d written just one piece – his Sixth Symphony.

    Edgar Self mentions good options for the Tchaikovsky Trio (but it should be added that the Rubinstein-Heifetz-Piatigorsky recording has a big cut in the finale); if you want to hear passion tearing itself into tatters, you might also enjoy (maybe enjoy is not quite the right word) Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg with Cecile Licad and Antonio Menesses.

  • DavisNelson. thanks for sorting out the chronology of Rachmaninoff’s chamber music. I couldn’t remember and so carefully skirted it. There’s also the beautiful cello sonata, of which Rostropovich and Horowitz, at the latter’s instance, played and recorded the adgio at the Save Carnegie Hall concert.

    A finnish correspondent is the only other I know to notice that the “B” section of your funeral march in Schumann’s piano quintet proleptically almost quotes “Finlandia”, a plagiarism in advance. I can’t choose between either of Rubinstein’s recordings but also remember one by Busch-Serkin. I want to heear Bernstein’s again,though he will gild the lily.

    Petros Linardoss, ten points for Alyabiev’s piano trio. Tziganov and Shirinsky of the Beethoven Quartet also recorded Shostakovich’s memorial second piano trio for his particular friend Ivan Sollertinsky with the composer; it has a fine passacaglia movement. And Cecile Licad is a formidable pianist whose Saiant-Saens second concerto is in the claass of Moiseiwitsc and Benjamin Grosvenor.

    I can recommend Alexander Goldenweiser’s piano trio to thememory of Rachmaninof, a single variations moement on aplaintive Russian melody, beautifully played on Russian Reference by the composer with Oistrakh and Rostropovich.

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