Lugansky plays selection of Rachmaninoff's Etudes-Tableaux
Nikolai Lugansky plays a selection of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Etudes-Tableaux op. 33 and op. 39. With quite a hair-raising performance of op. 39 no. 6.
Live recording in December 2020 at St. Peterburg Philharmonia. Recital dedicated to conductor Alexander Vedernikov.
“In 1911 Rachmaninov, who had already created such traditional cycles as the Moments Musicaux and the Préludes, reverts to the genre of piano miniature. He creates his famous cycle Op. 33 - unprecedented in piano repertoire. These pieces did not receive their name immediately; at their first performance in December 1911, the pieces in F minor, E♭major and C# minor were announced as “Préludes-Tableaux”, and only some time later the author coined their name as “Études-Tableaux.” The name, which remains unique in the history of music, came naturally to Rachmaninov since many of his works are inspired by visual images. A picture of A. Böcklin inspired the composer to create his symphonic poem "The Isle of the Dead", Op. 29. ''Tableaux" - that was the subtitle of his first Suite (Fantasy) for two pianos, Op. 5. "Étude" suggests the virtuosity of Rachmaninov's pianistic art. In contrast to the Préludes and Moments Musicaux that usually reflect fleeting changes of the composer's inner world, the Études-Tableaux create epic symbolic images which add up to make a grandiose Tableau de Russe.
Written before the cataclysm which was to transform Russia, they were imbued with the very essence of Russia - her people and nature, griefs and festivities, her mysterious spirit - from folklore tales to ascetic clerical culture, that mystic aureole of the "Holy Russia" of Tyutchev's famous lines:
Not by the mind is Russia understood, Nor is she measured by a common rule: She has a special stature of her own, In Russia one can only put his faith."
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