Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Have you 30 minutes? You owe it to yourself to listen to this!

Are you a musician or serious music lover? If you don't know this piece and have 30 minutes you owe it to yourself to listen.

I have loved the Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos 2 & 3 and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini since I was a young musician. The music just sounds right to me, has always sounded just right. There's not a note out of place.

Rachmaninoff himself didn't call this a Cello Sonata i.e. a solo cello piece with piano accompaniment. He called it Sonata in G Minor for Cello and Piano, preferring to show the equal partnership of the two players.

The piano writing is startlingly similar to that of the concerti. It's virtuosic, exploiting the full range or the instrument, technically and expressively.

The cello sometimes plays the role the violins play in the concerti, taking the themes while the piano accompanies. Sometimes it plays the orchestral cello lines, playing countermelodies in the middle register while the piano takes the leading ones. It frequently sings melodies, melodies sometimes chant or folk-like, or those that push forward and upward in repeated rhythms or sequences.

This work captures the same excitement that is to be found in Rachmaninoff's big works for piano and orchestra. Hearing it for the first time is like discovering a work which is strangely like that other piece that you already know yet different and unique.

Here's the sonata with the score for those of you who read music. It's the way I like to listen to music like this.

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