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Donald Macleod discusses the work that brought Rachmaninov global fame: his Second Piano Concerto.

This week Donald Macleod explores Rachmaninov the pianist-composer, focusing on his concertante piano works. Today, the work that brought him global fame: his Second Piano Concerto.

In March 1897, what should have been a triumphant occasion for Rachmaninov - the première of his First Symphony - turned into an unmitigated catastrophe. An under-rehearsed orchestra under the baton of a poor and, according to some accounts, inebriated conductor was enough to disadvantage the work so seriously that its composer was plunged into silence for the next three years. An encounter with the novelist Tolstoy was arranged, in the rather surprising hope that the surly old curmudgeon might be able to set the diffident young composer back on track. After that failed, the services of Dr Nikolai Dahl, a music-loving hypnotherapist, were called upon. Whatever Dahl did, it did the trick, and Rachmaninov's writer's block was spectacularly broken with his Second Piano Concerto, which quickly became a major international success.

Morceau de fantaisie in G minor
Fughetta in F
Howard Shelley, piano

Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor, Op 18
Sviatoslav Richter, piano
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Stanislaw Wislocki, conductor

Cello Sonata in G minor, Op 19; 3rd mvt, Andante
Leonard Elschenbroich, cello
Alexei Grynyuk, piano

Suite No 2 for two pianos, Op 17; 4th mvt, Tarantella
Martha Argerich, Gabriela Montero, pianos

Producer: Chris Barstow.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Morceaux de fantaisie in G minor

    Performer: Howard Shelley.
    • HYPERION : CDS44041/8.
    • HYPERION.
    • 4.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Fughetta In F Major For Piano [1899]

    Performer: Howard Shelley.
    • HYPERION : CDS44041/8.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Concerto No. 2 In C Minor Op.18 For Piano And Orchestra

    Performer: Sviatoslav Richter. Orchestra: Orkiestra Symfoniczna Filharmonii Narodowej. Conductor: Stanisław Wisłocki.
    • DG RECORDS : DG415-119-2.
    • DG RECORDS.
    • 1.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Sonata In G Minor Op.19 For Cello And Piano

    Performer: Leonard Elschenbroich. Performer: Alexei Grynyuk.
    • ONYX : 4116.
    • ONYX.
    • 2.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Suite No. 2 Op.17 For 2 Pianos - 4th mvt, Tarantella

    Performer: Martha Argerich. Performer: Gabriela Montero.
    • WARNER 0825646235940.
    • WARNER.
    • 11.

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