Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Donald Macleod discusses Rachmaninov's epic and fiendishly difficult Third Piano Concerto.

This week Donald Macleod explores Rachmaninov the pianist-composer, focusing on his concertante piano works. Today, his epic and fiendishly difficult Third Piano Concerto.

Rachmaninov's songs are probably the least-known part of his output, but they're well worth exploring. The Opus 26 set was written at the behest of Mariya Kerzina, who with her wealthy lawyer husband Arkady founded the 'Circle of Russian Music Lovers in Moscow', which grew into an important and influential sponsor of new music in the first decade of the 20th century. By the time he wrote that set of songs, Rachmaninov was, like everyone else, becoming increasingly disturbed by the political unrest he could see all around him. In 1906 he took his family on an extended break in Italy in the hope that things at home might begin to settle down again. An invitation to tour America offered a further reason to stay away but for the moment, family illness prevented him from accepting. Three years later, when a second invitation came his way, he said yes. He wrote his Third Piano Concerto specially for that tour. The response was respectful rather than ecstatic, although the second performance, under the baton of none other than Gustav Mahler, prompted a warmer response from the critics. Only when Vladimir Horowitz took up the concerto in the 1930s did it begin to achieve its current popularity in the concert hall.

'All was taken from me', Op 26 No 2
Rodion Pogossov, baritone
Iain Burnside, piano

Fifteen Songs, Op 26
- No 1, 'The heart's secret'
- No 3, 'We shall rest'
- No 10, 'At my window'
- No 15, 'Everything passes'
Justina Gringyte, mezzo-soprano (1)
Alexander Vinogradov, bass (3)
Ekaterina Siurina, soprano (10)
Andrei Bondarenko, baritone (15)
Iain Burnside, piano

Piano Concerto No 3 in D minor, Op 30
Van Cliburn, piano
Symphony of the Air
Kirill Kondrashin, conductor

Producer: Chris Barstow.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    15 Songs Op.26

    Performer: Iain Burnside. Singer: Rodion Pogossov.
    • DELPHIAN : DCD 34127.
    • DELPHIAN.
    • 14.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    15 Songs Op.26

    Performer: Iain Burnside. Singer: Rodion Pogossov.
    • DELPHIAN : DCD 34127.
    • DELPHIAN.
    • 14.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    15 Songs Op.26 - No 1, ‘the heart’s secret’

    Performer: Iain Burnside. Singer: Alexander Vinogradov. Singer: Justina Gringyte. Singer: Ekaterina Murina. Singer: Andrei Bondarenko.
    • DELPHIAN : DCD 34127.
    • DELPHIAN.
    • 13.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    15 Songs Op.26 - No 1, ‘the heart’s secret’

    Performer: Iain Burnside. Singer: Alexander Vinogradov. Singer: Justina Gringyte. Singer: Ekaterina Murina. Singer: Andrei Bondarenko.
    • DELPHIAN : DCD 34127.
    • DELPHIAN.
    • 13.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    15 Songs Op.26 - No 3, ‘we shall rest’

    Performer: Iain Burnside. Singer: Alexander Vinogradov. Singer: Justina Gringyte. Singer: Ekaterina Murina. Singer: Andrei Bondarenko.
    • DELPHIAN : DCD 34127.
    • DELPHIAN.
    • 13.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    15 Songs Op.26 - No 3, ‘we shall rest’

    Performer: Iain Burnside. Singer: Alexander Vinogradov. Singer: Justina Gringyte. Singer: Ekaterina Murina. Singer: Andrei Bondarenko.
    • DELPHIAN : DCD 34127.
    • DELPHIAN.
    • 13.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    15 Songs Op.26 - No 10, ‘at my window’

    Performer: Iain Burnside. Singer: Alexander Vinogradov. Singer: Justina Gringyte. Singer: Ekaterina Murina. Singer: Andrei Bondarenko.
    • DELPHIAN : DCD 34127.
    • DELPHIAN.
    • 13.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    15 Songs Op.26 - No 10, ‘at my window’

    Performer: Iain Burnside. Singer: Alexander Vinogradov. Singer: Justina Gringyte. Singer: Ekaterina Murina. Singer: Andrei Bondarenko.
    • DELPHIAN : DCD 34127.
    • DELPHIAN.
    • 13.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    15 Songs Op.26 - No 15, ‘everything passes’

    Performer: Iain Burnside. Singer: Alexander Vinogradov. Singer: Justina Gringyte. Singer: Ekaterina Murina. Singer: Andrei Bondarenko.
    • DELPHIAN : DCD 34127.
    • DELPHIAN.
    • 13.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    15 Songs Op.26 - No 15, ‘everything passes’

    Performer: Iain Burnside. Singer: Alexander Vinogradov. Singer: Justina Gringyte. Singer: Ekaterina Murina. Singer: Andrei Bondarenko.
    • DELPHIAN : DCD 34127.
    • DELPHIAN.
    • 13.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor

    Performer: Van Cliburn. Orchestra: Symphony of the Air. Conductor: Kirill Kondrashin.
    • SONY: 88697720602.
    • SONY.
    • 1.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor

    Performer: Van Cliburn. Orchestra: Symphony of the Air. Conductor: Kirill Kondrashin.
    • SONY: 88697720602.
    • SONY.
    • 1.

Broadcasts

Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.