Dedicated to Goldenweiser (later to become Director of the Moscow Conservatoire), the C major Suite No 2 was first heard in Moscow in November 1901, played by Rachmaninov and Alexander Siloti (his cousin and teacher). Emerging phoenix-like out of the depression of the fin de siècle years following the rejection of the D minor Symphony in 1897, it’s a work, according to Babin, that for Rachmaninov ‘always remained symbolic of the renewal of life’. Opening with a grandly rejuvenating chordal march gilded in bell sounds, two of its movements are dances—the first a G major waltz tableau of ‘fluttering eyelids’ and climactic E flat passion; the second an exhilarating tarantella finale in the minor, recalling a summer spent in Italy with Chaliapin. Physically full-bodied and full-blooded, it’s been accused of wanting in ‘notable profundity’ (Geoffrey Norris, 1976). And its links with the Second Concerto have been turned against it. No matter. Pianists will not be bothered. And listeners will not care. Dreams and poems, the sweetest of lingering hope, is the vision of its A flat Romance.
from notes by Ates Orga © 1993