Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto - Through Six Sets of Eyes...

The other day, after listening to Arcadi Volodos perform the Rachmaninoff 3rd piano concerto, it struck me as to how he constructed this massive composition; how he dealt with the myriad of ideas having been committed to manuscript by the greatest of Romantic composers of the 20th Century.
Eventually, I came around to my wondering how the enormity of dimension can be corralled in such a Brobdingnagian piece of great art and result in a cogent and positive, yet poetic reading  of,  arguably, the most impressive Romantic Piano Concerto of the Post-Romantic era(1909, I believe, this concerto to have begun).
After grappling with ways to wrestle  with utter dimension, as regards interpretation,  the word Kinetic  appeared, and I found myself listening to various pianists dealing with the first movement of the concerto, just to determine if a clue as to 'Tactic' would  come forward.
To my consciousness came a proposition by way of the Interrogatory;, namely, "is it possible that the very first part of the first movement, what with its wonderfully poignant and rather   morose beauty , set the  psychic stage for the entire work?"  This question entered my mind as I reminded myself as to the truly wonderful manner in which the three movements are bound into a kind of Gordian knot;  truly as if one movement could simply  not exist without the other two(another way of describing to myself, probably, that this work is one of the relatively few truly towering incarnations in the Concerto Form).
And so I began a  kind of vigil; namely, listening to the playing of the first movement of this work by six different great artists. I then put these six performances back-to-back on a blank CD, and heard them non-stop a number of times.
I then listened to these pianists play the entire work, and I  found myself  riveted by how the sense of atmosphere chosen by these artists pervaded the other two movements;  how  the comprehensiveness  of direction seemed to have, in some arcane fashion, arisen from the first movement.
The six pianists were Janis, Kissin, Andsnes, Volodos, Rachmaninoff, Horowitz in 1941 and then again in 1948.
I do not seek from any of my readers either agreement or disagreement  in my reactions to this adventure  I experienced. I am merely relating to you an event which, for a musician who has been involved with the study of music for  many years, has been given  another view of the ways to listen to this wordless language.

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