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Track(s) taken from CDA67275

Polka de W R

Lachtäuben 'The little laughing dove'; originally thought to be by Vassily (Wassily) Rachmaninov
March 1911

Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Recording details: February 2001
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: October 2001
Total duration: 3 minutes 49 seconds

Cover artwork: Front illustration by Donya Claire James (b?)

Other recordings available for download

Howard Shelley (piano)


'Hamelin's performances are a wonder of brilliance and refinement. The recordings are superb, Jeremy Nicholas's notes a mine of informative titbits. In Marc-André Hamelin Hyperion clearly has a pianist to turn other record companies green with envy' (Gramophone)

'This collection of virtuoso encores by mostly forgotten pianist-composers is simply sensational' (The Sunday Times)

'Twenty encore pieces for lovers of superhuman virtuosity' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Even if you are used to drawing your breath with incredulity at Hamelin's performances, you should tighten your seat-belt: This disc will make you gasp in amazement and roar in outraged laughter at the same time … the piano disc of the year, perfect in every aspect. Run out and buy it now' (Fanfare, USA)

'In latter times a new breed of pianist has appeared, the super-virtuoso for whom no technical challenge is too much. Chief of this tribe of metamusicians is the Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin, whose playing defies rational explanation … This is, in short, some of the most phenomenal playing you’ll ever hear' (Punch)

'Hamelin's refinement, jaw-dropping virtuosity and sense of sheer fun combine to make the whole lot both irresistible and simply unbelievable. With Hamelin around, who needs Horowitz?' (Piano, Germany)
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

Le père de Rachmaninov, Wassili (ou Vassili), était un bon pianiste amateur (son grand-père paternel, Arkadi, avait étudié le piano avec John Field, inventeur du nocturne). À son répertoire figurait une polka toute simple qu’il jouait souvent pour le plus grand amusement de son fils prodige. Celui-ci, de toute évidence convaincu que ce morceau était l’œuvre de son père, en réalisa en 1911 un arrangement délicieusement complice qu’il intitula «Polka de W.R.»—pour Wassili Rachmaninov—et dédia à Leopold Godowsky.

En fait, la polka que jouait Rachmaninov père était la Scherzpolka, ou Polka de la colombe, op. 303, de Franz Behr, qui publia une grande partie de son abondante production d’œuvres de salon sous les pseudonymes de Georges Bachmann, William Cooper, Charles Morley et Francesco d’Orso. Même si Rachmaninov n’utilise pas la section centrale (en si bémol) de cette Scherzpolka, s’il reprend en la bémol le thème en fa majeur de Behr et introduit un contre-chant original pour accompagner le retour du thème principal, sa Polka de W. R. n’en est pas moins une transcription au même titre que d’autres (transcription des Liebesfreud et Liebesleid de Kreisler, par exemple) et devrait donc être signée «Behr-Rachmaninov».

Rachmaninov enregistra cette Polka à quatre reprises, une fois sur cylindre et trois fois sur disque (en 1919, 1921 et 1928).

extrait des notes rédigées par Jeremy Nicholas © 2001
Français: Josée Bégaud

Rachmaninows Vater Wassili war ein guter Amateurpianist (Arkadi, sein Großvater mütterlicherseits, hatte bei John Field, dem Erfinder der Nocturne, Klavierunterricht erhalten). Zu Wassilis Repertoire gehörte eine schlichte Polka, die er häufig zur Freude seines begabten Sohns spielte. Offenbar in der Überzeugung, sein Vater habe das Stück geschrieben, schuf Rachmaninow 1911 dieses herrlich verschmitzte Arrangement der Polka, nannte es Polka de W.R.—(W)assili (R)achmaninow—und widmete es Leopold Godowsky.

Tatsächlich war die Polka, die Vater Rachmaninow kannte, die Scherzpolka (bzw. Turteltaubenpolka) op. 303 von Franz Behr, von dessen zahlreichen Salonstücken viele unter den Pseudonymen Georges Bachmann, William Cooper, Charles Morley und Francesco D’Orso erschienen. Auch wenn Rachmaninow den Mittelteil (B-Dur) der Scherzpolka nicht benutzt, Behrs Thema von F-Dur nach As-Dur transponiert und eine eigene Gegenmelodie geschaffen hat, um die Rückkehr des Hauptthemas zu begleiten, ist die Polka de W.R. eine Transkription wie jede andere, die Rachmaninow vorgenommen hat (z.B. von Kreislers Liebesfreud und Liebesleid), und sollte als solche korrekt mit „Behr/Rachmaninow“ gekennzeichnet werden.

Rachmaninow hat die Polka einmal auf Klavierrolle und dreimal auf Schallplatte eingespielt (1919, 1921 und 1928).

aus dem Begleittext von Jeremy Nicholas © 2001
Deutsch: Anne Steeb/Bernd Müller

Other albums featuring this work

Rachmaninov: The Complete Solo Piano Music
CDS44041/8Boxed set (at a special price) — Download only
Rachmaninov: The Transcriptions
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