The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic's latest recording of two of Rachmaninov's symphonic poems, as well as his Symphonic Dances, presents three markers in the Russian composer's life.
Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances
The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic's latest recording of two of Rachmaninov's symphonic poems, as well as his Symphonic Dances, presents three markers in the Russian composer's life. Confusingly, they are offered in reverse chronological order, but a small amount of digital shuffling should be enough for you to wander from his early years as a struggling musician - he wrote The Rock in 1893 aged 20, and was given the seal of approval by his venerable senior Tchaikovsky - via The Isle of the Dead - written in 1908 and inspired by Arnold Bocklin's painting, it shows traces of the severe depression he had recently emerged from - to the Symphonic Dances, his final composition before his death, written in 1940 once he had emigrated to the US. Rachmaninov's life can be split into two parts: the period he spent in his Russian homeland, and the subsequent years he spent in the United States after the Russian Revolution forced him to emigrate. The RLPO brilliantly captures the composer's sense of loss, particularly in the Dances, where the alto saxophone solo is hauntingly nostalgic. They succeed, too, in maintaining the music's precarious balance between intense melancholy and breezy lyricism. The fresh-faced conductor's reputation for breathing new life into the once ailing RLPO seems well-deserved.