Part of Singers on Singing: Composer Profiles
An exploration of the vocal music of Sergei Rachmaninoff by Professor Philip Ross Bullock, editor of “Rachmaninoff and His World” (Chicago Press), in conversation with Jon Tolansky
In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sergei Rachmaninoff, the author and Russian literature and music scholar Professor Philip Ross Bullock, Fellow of Wadham College at Oxford University and the editor of the new biographical study of Rachmaninoff “Rachmaninoff and His World”, discusses the composer’s three operas, various choral works, and a selection of his songs. Music illustrations are included by kind permission of Decca Classics, which has exclusively agreed with the Hampsong Foundation that for this unique aural study of Rachmaninoff’s vocal compositions, short extracts from its 32 CD set “Sergei Rachmaninoff, The Complete Works” can be used.
Sergei Rachmaninoff was born in Oneg near Novgorod in the far North of Russia on the 1st of April 1873 and died at Beverly Hills, California, on the 28th of March 1943. He was to become a legend in his lifetime, as an inspired composer, a virtuoso pianist, and also a brilliant conductor, and yet despite his great fame, for a long time a substantial amount of his remarkably wide-ranging music was little known to the public. In particular much of his vocal writing – songs, choral works and three completed operas – was neglected until recent decades, and it was only when these compositions began to be more frequently performed that the musical world at large belatedly recognised how adventurous Rachmaninoff’s creative styles could be, as many of these works are strikingly different in character from his most popular music. Professor Bullock profiles Rachmaninoff’s vocal writing in the context of the composer’s personal history and his deep absorption in literature, poetry and drama, art forms that were vital inspirations for him all through his life. He also explores the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church’s vocal music in his creative imagination.
Rachmaninoff and His World
Edited by Philip Ross Bullock
A biography of composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, published in collaboration with the Bard Music Festival.
One of the most popular classical composers of all time, Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873–1943) has often been dismissed by critics as a conservative, nostalgic holdover of the nineteenth century and a composer fundamentally hostile to musical modernism. The original essays collected here show how he was more responsive to aspects of contemporary musical life than is often thought, and how his deeply felt sense of Russianness coexisted with an appreciation of American and European culture. In particular, the essays document his involvement with intellectual and artistic circles in pre-revolutionary Moscow and how the form of modernity they promoted shaped his early output. This volume represents one of the first serious explorations of Rachmaninoff’s successful career as a composer, pianist, and conductor, first in late Imperial Russia, and then after emigration in both the United States and interwar Europe. Shedding light on some unfamiliar works, especially his three operas and his many songs, the book also includes a substantial number of new documents illustrating Rachmaninoff’s celebrity status in America.
University of Chicago Press: 2022
"Singing Rachmaninoff" Audio Feature
Singing Rachmaninoff is put together in 12 separate stand-alone audio segments as follows:
Lieder.net Translations of Works by Rachmaninoff
The music extracts are as follows:
Aleko (opera) – Sergei Leiferkus, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi
The Miserly Knight (Skupoy rïtsar′, three scenes)– Sergei Aleksashkin, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi
Francesca da Rimini (prologue, 2 scenes, epilogue)– Sergei Leiferkus, Maria Guleghina, Gothenburg Opera Chorus, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi
Spring (Vesna, cantata) – Sergei Leiferkus, Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Orchestra, Charles Dutoit
Liturgy of St John Chrysostom (Liturgiya svyatovo Ioanna Zlatousta, unaccompanied choral work)– St Petersburg Chamber Choir, Nikolai Korniev
All Night Vigil (Vsenoshchnoye bdeniye, unaccompanied choral work) – St Petersburg Chamber Choir, Nikolai Korniev
The Bells (Kolokola, choral symphonic work) – Natalia Troitskaya, Ryszard Karczykowski, Tom Krause, Royal Concertgebouw Chorus and Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy
Three Russian Songs – No. 3 (“White of my cheeks, blush of my cheeks!” / “Belelitsï, rumyanitsï vï moy,” chorus and orchestra) – Royal Concertgebouw Chorus and Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy
Do Not Believe Me My Friend / Believe Me Not, Friend (Не верь мне друг, когда в избытке горя / Ne ver’ mne, drug, Twelve Songs, Op. 24, No. 7) – Elisabeth Söderström, Vladimir Ashkenazy
Spring Waters (Весенние воды / Vesenniye vodi, Twelve Songs, Op. 24, No. 11) – Elisabeth Söderström, Vladimir Ashkenazy
Before My Window (У моего окна / U moyego okna, Fifteen Songs, Op. 26, No. 10) – Elisabeth Söderström, Vladimir Ashkenazy
The Ring (Кольцо / Kol’tso, Fifteen Songs, Op. 26, No. 14) – Elisabeth Söderström, Vladimir Ashkenazy
In My Garden at Night (Ночью в саду у меня / Noch’u v sadu u menya, Six Songs, Op. 38, No. 1) – Elisabeth Söderström, Vladimir AshkenazyLieder.net Text
A-OO! / A-u! (Ау, Six Songs, Op. 38, No. 6) – Elisabeth Söderström, Vladimir Ashkenazy
Rachmaninoff: The Complete Works
All of Rachmaninov’s music - from his earliest student compositions to his final masterpieces – has been collected together for the first time on 32 CDs, in what is definitively the most complete and comprehensive edition of Rachmaninov’s works ever released.
COMPLETE AND COMPREHENSIVE. Even includes the popular and treasured recordings made by Rachmaninov himself - The Ampico Recordings. These are recordings from piano rolls of Rachmaninov as a pianist, featuring many small works and transcriptions made between 1919 and 1929.
LEGENDARY PIANO CONCERTO RECORDINGS and a RARITY. Five CDs in the set are dedicated to the works that secured Rachmaninov his household name – the Piano Concertos. Four legendary recordings of the Piano Concertos with different pianists
The recordings with Elisabeth Söderström and Vladamir Ashkenazy are included on this album.