Friday, February 1

Rachmaninoff's Valse from "Symphonic Dances"

 The Symphonic Dances op.45 is Rachmaninoff's last work. Of the three movements, the most dear to me is the Second - Andante con moto (Tempo di valse). Actually, I strongly believe that this particular movement is one of the greatest "moments" in Rachmaninoff's music.  Why do I say this? 
Well, because there are so many diversified elements in it, blending with each other in an absolutely harmonious way.    This valse is at same time gracious, magnificent, strange, subtle, dark, light, unpredictable, original, at times explosive! 

One feels that the melody has not "decided" its course, as if it is trying to find its way throughout the movement. There is also an unsettling feeling of rhythmic uncertainty which adds immensely to whole extraordinary effect. 

A strange and irresistibly charming Valse, full of unanswered questions, undecisive, hesitating...

Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances (and this Valse in particular) is, to me, the most persuasive proof of influence that R's music had on the work of the other great Russian composer - Sergei Prokofiev. 

A word on recordings: the best ever made, in my view and taste, is with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Vladimir Ashkenazy. (I do not think one can find it on youtube though).

Another very good recording is the one with Yevgeny Svetlanov conducting the State Symphony Orchestra of the Russian Federation. This recording was made in October 1995, in Moscow. It tends to be slower than I would prefer but, still, it conveys all the elements discussed above. 



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