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Hyperion Records

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The sled … ran roughshod into everything that stood in its way. Russian Folk Art
Track(s) taken from CDA66486
Recording details: February 1991
St Michael's Church, Highgate, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Stephen Johns
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: November 1991
Total duration: 4 minutes 9 seconds

'Rachmaninov's mix of Slavonic wit and melancholy is caught to perfection … a true keyboard aristocrat' (Gramophone)

Polka de W R
composer
Lachtäuben 'The little laughing dove'; originally thought to be by Vassily (Wassily) Rachmaninov
arranger
March 1911

Other recordings available for download
Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Simon Barere (piano)
Simon Barere (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Rachmaninov’s father Wassili (or Vassili) was a good amateur pianist (his paternal grandfather, Arkadi, had studied piano with John Field, inventor of the nocturne). Amongst Wassili’s repertoire was a simple polka which he frequently played to the amusement of his talented son. Clearly under the impression that it was a piece his father had written, Rachmaninov composed this deliciously knowing arrangement of the polka in 1911, entitling it Polka de W.R.—(W)assili (R)achmaninov—with a dedication to Leopold Godowsky.

In fact, the polka that Rachmaninov père et fils enjoyed was the Scherzpolka or Turtle Dove Polka, Op 303, by Franz Behr, many of whose numerous other salon works appeared under the pseudonyms of Georges Bachmann, William Cooper, Charles Morley and Francesco d’Orso. Though the middle (B flat) section of the Scherzpolka is not used by Rachmaninov, with Behr’s theme transposed from F major to A flat and an original counter­melody to accompany the return of the main theme, the Polka de W.R. is as much a transcription as others by Rachmaninov (Kreisler’s Liebesfreud and Liebesleid, for instance) and, as such, should properly be designated ‘Behr-Rachmaninov’.

Rachmaninov himself made one piano roll and three disc recordings of the Polka (1919, 1921 and 1928).

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2001


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