The poetry of Brahms and Rachmaninoff

Cinquième Salle August 12, 2017

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Brahms, 3 Intermezzi, opus 117 (18 min.)
Rachmaninoff, 14 Romances, opus 34: XIV. “Vocalise” (5 min.)
Rachmaninoff, 6 Romances, opus 4: V. “O, cease thy singing maiden fair”, transcr. Earl Wild (4 min.)
Stravinsky, The Firebird, transcr. Guido Agosti (12 min.)
Infernal Dance of All Kastchei’s Subjects – Lullaby – Finale

Powerful lyricism and brilliant virtuosity are the substance of this recital of well-known original works and arrangements from the late Romantic and 20th-century piano repertoires.
Johannes Brahms called his 3 Intermezzi, opus 117 “Wiegenlieder meiner Schmerzen” [Lullabies of my sorrow]. The first piece is prefaced by lines from a Scottish ballad (“Sleep softly, my child”) and unfolds at a softly rocking pace in 6/8 metre. In the words of musicologist Claude Rostand, they consist of “three autumn sceneries bathed in the halftone, chiaroscuro atmosphere dear to the aging Brahms.”
Sergei Rachmaninoff was the last great proponent of Russian Romanticism. The “Vocalise” is a piano arrangement of the last, wordless song from the Romances, opus 34. “O, cease thy singing, maiden fair” renders a beautiful melody swathed in opulent harmonies.
Guido Agosti’s transcriptions of three pictures from Stravinsky’s ballet music for The Firebird are powerful vehicles of virtuoso display. The shattering opening chord of “Infernal Dance of All Kastchei’s Subjects” kicks off a vivid, motion-filled score. The mysterious accents of the “Lullaby” are a natural presage to the opening tremolos of the “Finale”, which soon develops in ample chords, rapid figures and glissandos à la Debussy, but with that unmistakeable percussive touch so characteristic of Stravinsky.


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