Hyperion Records

Polka de W R
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

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA66486 track 12
Recording date
22 February 1991
Recording venue
St Michael's Church, Highgate, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Stephen Johns
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Rachmaninov: The Transcriptions (CDA66486)
    Disc 1 Track 12
    Release date: November 1991
    Deletion date: May 2011
    Superseded by CDH55458
  2. Rachmaninov: The Transcriptions (CDH55458)
    Disc 1 Track 12
    Release date: March 2014
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
  3. Rachmaninov: The Complete Solo Piano Music (CDS44041/8)
    Disc 8 Track 12
    Release date: March 1993
    Deletion date: February 2014
    Boxed set (at a special price) — Download only
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