Hyperion Records

Russian Rhapsody, Op posth.
12-14 January 1891

'Medtner: Music for two pianos' (CDH55337)
Medtner: Music for two pianos
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55337  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
Movement 1: Moderato – Cadenza – Vivace – Meno mosso
Track 7 on CDH55337 [4'27] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Movement 2: Andante – Con moto – Tempo I: Meno mosso
Track 8 on CDH55337 [3'38] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)

Russian Rhapsody, Op posth.
Posthumously published in 1948, the manuscript of the youthful two-movement folk Russian Rhapsody (Museum of Musical Culture, Moscow) is dated 12–14 January 1891. ‘Someone had told [Rachmaninov] that nothing could be written on a certain Russian theme’, remembered Alexander Goldenweiser, recalling the occasion of the first performance (autumn 1891). So

he wrote a composition in E minor (in the form of variations). It was quite good music. I remember that at some benefit [Moscow Conservatoire student] concert for ourselves—we often arranged such events—Rachmaninov and [Joseph] Lhevinne performed this piece on two pianos; it concluded with a variation in octaves, alternating from one pianist to the other … on that occasion each increased the tempo, and everyone watched to see who would outplay whom. Each had a phenomenal wrist, but it was Rachmaninov who won.

How reliable was Goldenweiser’s memory? Or was the original form of the music different? As eventually written/printed, the final (G major) variation provides for no accelerando. And, with the exception of three bars on the last page, all the octave work is confined to the first piano part.

from notes by Ates Orga © 1993

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