Rach On!

With the Monster…

Sergei Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Opus 30.  Vladimir Horowitz, Piano; Zubin Mehta, Conductor.
New York Philharmonic; September 24, 1978; Avery Fisher Hall.

As any regular reader might have observed, the Cowboy is a bit of a sentimental sap.  So it should come as no surprise that one of his longtime favorites is the Monster.  Yes, it’s all show and flash and raw sentimentality, but what’s wrong with that?

Vladimir Horowitz made the first-ever recording of the Rach3 in 1930.  This performance at Lincoln Center is the last time he played the piece.  In case you want to quibble about some wrong notes here and there, take note:  he was 75 at the time.

The Rachmaninov 3rd begins rather simply, but it soon takes the performer and listener on a wild ride.

Easy peasy

It is difficult to listen to the entire piece with dry eyes.  Here’s Yefim Bronfman discussing it.

Money quote:

“Just think that he [Rachmaninov] could come up with such an incredible idea of writing this monster.  First of all it’s one of the most beautiful melodies ever written, in the beginning of the concerto.  It is really a marvel in melody, melancholy, expressivity.”

There is much debate about the “best” performance and the “best” recording.  The Cowboy is partial to Evgeny Kissin’s interpretation.  Kissin’s understated control, given his youth, creates a hidden tension that the Cowboy likes.  Perhaps the most widely praised recording is Ashkenazy in 1963, but you have to put up with the recording technology of the day.


Published in: on November 5, 2009 at 21:30  Leave a Comment  
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