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Today, December 18 many years ago, a Russian refugee running form the Red Plague and after spending some time in Northern Europe was forced to make living by playing piano. By the today’s concert that took place in Providence RI, Sergey Rachmaninoff in 1918 opened his concert session in his New World, the session lasting for two and a half decades.
It is a deep night December 18 2004 and I decided to celebrate the night by playing the Rachmaninoff’s Third. Today my pick was “different”, not to say “bizarre”. Among the hundreds performances of The Third I am playing now the strangest one. It is a live performance on Franz Vorraber with Philharmonic Orchestra of Wurzburg under the conducting of Daniel Klajner. This is VERY strange performance –sometimes they do something that I would not particularly appreciate but sometimes they do so stunning things that I never heard from any other performance. The most remarkable in thier play are poses. They may stop and hang the tempo in the very mingle of “nothing” (sort of) and they hold it, hold it, hold it, hold it, hold it, and hold it, almost painfully long but it is all of organically imbedded into the material of composition and perfectly musically justifiable. Pretty much all-slowest parts of the concerto they done fascinatingly wonderful!
*********** ... wrote at anniversary of the Rachmaninoffs’ death ***************
Sergei Vassilievich Rachmaninoff 1873 (April 1) - 1943 (today)
Some years ago I found myself at the site of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s grave. It was a cold and icy day. There were no visitors at the cemetery and the snow-covered landscape appeared remarkably Russian. I parked right next to His grave. All windows of my car were open and cemetery’s air was filled by sounds of His second movement of the Third Concerto played by Horowitz … Who beside Horowitz was entitled to carry out this mission?
Some things Rachmaninoff wrote should not be just listened to… they should be lived with. To me, some of Rachmaninoff’s musical phases portray a musical picture of Universe more fulfilling that any other composed music. I do know what Rachmaninoff said in his music, and I remember how the World sounded being reflected by the Rachmaninoff’s thoughts….
Wherever I travel I listen Rachmaninoff’s music. I remember how Rachmaninoff’s Third danced around the noises of Boston’s downtown fighting with sounds of the automobile sirens, industrial blasts and international chatter. I remember how the Third fought among the moisture of Bavarian forest with the German musical anal-retentive intellectualism. I remember how the Third neurotically ran through the narrow, covered-in-plastic bicycle-streets of a tiny Fiji’s atoll and eventually broke through out, filling the width of the Pacific Ocean. I remember how the Third proved its rights to live among the lifeless Middle Eastern desert. I remember how the Third matured among the semi-busyness of a Paris’ hyper-chic. I remember how the Third burned the grass in a garden of a Kyoto monastery. I remember how the Third cured the loneliness in Alcatraz. I remember how the Third sustained me both in the happiest moments of my life, and when I did not want to live…
That drizzly day I was playing Rachmaninoff’s Third to the Master at His grave. It was a different “Sound” and I understood that the Third never would “sound” the same…
While I was there I found in my car a disposable plastic photo camera that had been sitting there for years, and despite the fact that I don’t like pictures, I decided to take some shots. Now, years later, I ask myself why I did it. All my life I looked at the World through a prism of viewfinder, but I never released shutter if it was Unnecessary. Were those pictures necessary? Were they necessary as a fact of writing this essay or publishing it at this near-musical forum? I do not know the answer…
Rachmaninoff said in his last days, “Here are my fingers. They will never touch a keyboard again.” Fingers do not play Music. Life plays Music. Composers just bring it out for the rest of us. For us, who do not hear the Music “as is”… Do you write your own Music that deserves life? Does your life deserve Music? The answer is not pending for Rachmaninoff but for us, who still live. Rachmaninoff created Music that could fulfill numerous lives, and His Music might require numerous lives to realized what is in fact hidden behind those “three simple notes”…
There is no such thing as an anniversary of birth or death. There is a calendar that defines life and there is life that defines a calendar…
Rachmaninoff’s music… A lot of yet-uncomprehended and to-be-discovered “simple notes”…. Have a peaceful rest, the Master. Have a wonderful journey, the listener.
Thank you, Sergei Vassilievich.
3/28/2002 1:05:32 AM
Romy the Cat
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche