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Two Pieces for violin and piano, Op 6
summer 1893; Morceaux de salon; probably dedicated to Julius Conus

'Rachmaninov: Piano Trios' (CDH55431)
Rachmaninov: Piano Trios
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'Rachmaninov: Violin Sonata & other works' (SIGCD164)
Rachmaninov: Violin Sonata & other works
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'The Virtuoso Mandolin' (A66007)
The Virtuoso Mandolin
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No 1: Romance
No 2: Danses tziganes 'Danse hongroise'

Two Pieces for violin and piano, Op 6
By the time of the two ‘Morceaux de salon’ Op 6 for violin and piano—that is to say the summer of 1893—Rachmaninov was securely established as a composer and pianist. His Op 3 piano pieces (including the C sharp minor Prélude), along with the Op 4 songs, had either appeared, or were about to appear, in print, and he had completed the Fantaisie-tableaux for two pianos. The Op 6 pieces—a Romance and Danse hongroise—are similar in scope and plan to the cello pieces, Op 2. It is probable that they were dedicated to the violinist and composer Julius Conus as one source claims, but no details are extant for the first performance.

The Op 6 pieces share the same key, D minor, and the relatively extended Romance opens at once with the main theme on the violin, heard against a flowing accompaniment. A developmental counter-statement of this theme has the violin mostly in octaves, while the piano writing is also fuller and more dramatic. This leads to a relatively straightforward recapitulation before a brief but effective cadenza for the violin heralds the concluding four bars, rooted to D minor. The Danse hongroise, marked ‘Vivace’, is a brilliant piece, very typical of Rachmaninov (especially in the accompanimental keyboard figure), which at one point seems to echo an idea from the main theme of the Romance. Such is the composer’s mastery of violin writing (though he may well have enlisted Conus’s assistance in this regard) that one regrets that he did not leave a more extended work for the instrument.

from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 2000

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