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#1449724 - 06/03/10 07:13 PM Rachmaninov 1st sonata
dolce sfogato Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 2626
Loc: Netherlands
I have been romancing this piece for, well, 20 years or so, even studied/practised it, never performed it though, too afraid of: 1) people not liking it, 2) me not capable, 3)so much ado about nothing? , because it's really quite a beafy thing, it'll take one many hours, will it ever be a convincing piece? I think it's so much deeper and more musical than that eternal opus 36, what do you think?
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Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!

Couperin pièces, Ravel tombeau de C

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#1449727 - 06/03/10 07:20 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: dolce sfogato]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4526
Loc: in the past
I love one but two I feel I can do more with.

But it's such a great work.. I hope to perform both in a recital sometime!!

Why not just perform it?? I think more people should.
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'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1449730 - 06/03/10 07:28 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: Pogorelich.]
dolce sfogato Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 2626
Loc: Netherlands
I'll try one day, it's so beautiful, and so much better, and less superficially showy, and, yes, so much harder than nr.2, but also a bit longer and harder to sustain, see mov. 3, gosh, even darker than Schumann 3, but will it ever be a big Rach. piece? So much like the Chopinvariations op.22, equal in quality and underplayed as well, there'll always be things to do.
_________________________
Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!

Couperin pièces, Ravel tombeau de C

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#1449734 - 06/03/10 07:44 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: dolce sfogato]
jeffreyjones Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2290
Loc: San Jose, CA
I had a good friend who programmed it at Oberlin for his junior (!) recital. It certainly can work in performance if you keep it moving.

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#1449736 - 06/03/10 07:47 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: jeffreyjones]
dolce sfogato Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 2626
Loc: Netherlands
well, keep on saying these kind of things,and I'll probabely end up doing it, who knows?
_________________________
Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!

Couperin pièces, Ravel tombeau de C

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#1449739 - 06/03/10 07:49 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: dolce sfogato]
jeffreyjones Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2290
Loc: San Jose, CA
Dubal said that when Weissenberg played it (live), he played louder than anyone in the history of the piano..

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#1450010 - 06/04/10 09:13 AM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: jeffreyjones]
Mostly Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/10
Posts: 271
It's a lovely sonata, definitly go for it ; it's so underplayed, and I like it much more than the second.

Depending on who you're playing for, if you adapt just a little, I think anybody, musician or non-musician, can appreciate it.
The main downside of the sonata is that it's really long. For most listeners it will seem to drag-on ; the hardest part musically is finding the good balance between constantly moving forward and singing all the beautiful lines it feeds you. If you rush, it's just a maelstrom of notes and everybody gets bored ; if you drag, it's full of overly sentimental melodies that will overdose any ears.
A friend of mine played it to non-musician at a university (there is a grand piano, though nobody there studies music), and they must have been so bored they started clapping in the pause during the 3rd movement, when the slow theme reappears.

Technically, I probably can't say anything helpful to you, considering you play the Chopin 3rd I can barely graze. My main problem with this sonata are the inner voices that are slowly unfolding, I can't seem to make them coherent, they just sound like independant notes - it's really a Rachmaninov-like trait I'm always struggling with though. But I play it pretty slowly, and I probably can't really give it enough momentum to make it fly up. You really need great sound control to have it sound clean and expressive.

Definitly a big Rach piece though... Up there with the concertos. I hate those composers that only wrote a handful of sonatas ; they're really the most "complete" work you can do for solo piano.
I disagree with you though, I find it quite the showy piece ; the grandiose opening (reminds me of Medtner's G minor all the time), the shy second movement melody that screams painfully when the accompagniement comes, and the last movement constant interrogative / introspective chatters, with the resolute march-like theme coming after... And all those deep bass notes...


Edited by Mostly (06/04/10 09:19 AM)

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#1450355 - 06/04/10 06:45 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: Mostly]
dolce sfogato Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 2626
Loc: Netherlands
thanks for this serious and insightful response, it just made me think to do justice to this piece, and treat it indeed as something as the eternal Chopin 3rd, although the comparison will probabely always be in favour of the last mentioned piece...One riddle: why didn't Sergei play the 1st performance, and why didn't he ever make it one of his warhorses, as, in my humble opinion, it should have been, and as it is sooooooooooooooooooooooo much better than his 2nd endeavour in the genre, if anything, I prefer the 1913 version of nr.2, but it can't beat sonata nr.1.
_________________________
Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!

Couperin pièces, Ravel tombeau de C

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#1450391 - 06/04/10 07:29 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: dolce sfogato]
Mostly Offline
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Registered: 05/14/10
Posts: 271
Well, I think both "riddles" have a common answer.

It seems Rachmaninov was never confident with major works, and if any form invites monumental composition, it's truly the sonata form, and as we can see with the second sonata, he was really insecure on how to structure it.
For the first sonata, it seems he had been arguing with friends for a while regarding that same form and structure issue, so it comes as no wonder that he was troubled with the work. Moreover, he was conscious that the work took quite long to perform(something like 10 minutes more if I remember correctly), so he ended up asking friends for advice, and ultimately shortened it. Amongst those friends was the one that gave the premiere.

So I'd say, he gave up on the premiere as a token of gratitude to someone (a fellow Russian virtuoso I think, maybe from the Moscow conservatory but I'd have to check), and the piece never became a "warhorse" of his repertoire, because he felt unconfortable with it. I mean, I said earlier the sonata can feel too long, but imagine - he already cut a good 25% out !
In the end, the quest for perfection is quite the double edged blade ; it will lead to magnificent works, but it will also prevent many from being born. Imagine all the beautufil sonatas he could have created ! But instead he never felt confortable with those he had written, and constantly edited them.

I've read somewhere that unable to put his ideas through the sonata-form, he used the lighter form of the "tableaux-études" to incarnate many of the ideas he had. He indeed seems more at ease with shorter works, as he wrote many Preludes and Etudes - which contain ample material for several sonatas.

On another note, I never really understood the hate some people harbor towards Rachmaninov as a composer ; but it might steam from the fact that he wrote few orchestral work, and few long piano works. However, I somewhat feel that the piano concerti were his answer to both criticism... And indeed what works !


Edited by Mostly (06/04/10 07:32 PM)

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#1450401 - 06/04/10 07:42 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: Mostly]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4526
Loc: in the past
YOU say it's better than two.. I for one disagree! There is so much in two, and it's so difficult to make it sound good. Of course I prefer the original but the revised is beautiful too.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1450410 - 06/04/10 07:53 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: Pogorelich.]
dolce sfogato Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 2626
Loc: Netherlands
Mostly, he suggested some problems with the last movement to Pressman I think it was, and he asked him to make amendments, but I don't think he really used them, overall the whole thing doesn't last too long I think, it's maybe a bit too intern, what's the word, too selfinvolved, but when one realises that it could be/is about Faust/Gretchen/Mephisto, it's a help, it should be orchestrated like the 2nd symphhony...

Angelina, it's a matter of taste, de gustibus non est disputandem, I just prefer 1 over 2 (1st version at all costs if at all...and Ashkenasy playing).
_________________________
Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!

Couperin pièces, Ravel tombeau de C

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#1450415 - 06/04/10 07:58 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: Pogorelich.]
Mostly Offline
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Registered: 05/14/10
Posts: 271
The second sonata always makes me sad ; both versions have beautiful things, and you can only wish you could have the best of both. But unless you have the confidence of Horowitz or Van Cliburn, it's pretty hard to craft your own version and still call it the Rachmaninov second sonata...
That's really the "utility" of the author, he has the authority to call a piece, he can say, well, this is how it should be ! And when he somehow fails to assertain that authority, it always tarnish the work for me. I can't help saying to myself, "if only he had made a definite version !" ; it's so sad there are so many beautiful materials cut in the revised version, because overall the flow is better. But you just can't leave without some bits...

Not that I understand that sonata at all anyways, the first is much more straightforward I think. I'll give it 10 years before giving the 2nd a try smile

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#1450424 - 06/04/10 08:07 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: Mostly]
Mostly Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/10
Posts: 271
Well, I do think it's a bit to long for your average audience ; there are many parts that you feel should have been recapitulation, but that are instead a full fledged reprise.
Rachmaninov is really a "chatty" composer, and he doesn't have the same drive or momentum as say Prokofiev, so the sonata easily loses you ; and if you let your mind wander only for a moment, you'll end up thinking, "oh didn't I hear that already a few minutes ago ?"
I'm really thinking about more "uninformed" audiences though, because obviously once you know the work by heart those points somewhat disappear, unlike, say, Glazunov's first sonata (which I love) ; in this one, there are many "chatter" parts, without any real substance, and you never get used to it. Well, it's beautiful, but you can't really listen it forever ; at least it does make the melodic climax that much stronger ! (I recommand both sonatas by Glazunov, they are lovely ; you need a good overall technique for the first, and an amazing mastery of counterpoint for the second... The second's main theme is so ... simple, yet soooo sooo beautiful)


Edited by Mostly (06/04/10 08:08 PM)

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#1450429 - 06/04/10 08:17 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: Mostly]
dolce sfogato Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 2626
Loc: Netherlands
Know and play the 2nd Glazunov sonata, like Gilels's performance best, good piece, bit derivative, Schumann/Wagner/Brahms, too chordal in many places, and those dotted rhymths, but unforgettable music, the scherzo would very well stand on it's own! Rach. 1 beats it methinks..
_________________________
Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!

Couperin pièces, Ravel tombeau de C

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#1450441 - 06/04/10 08:31 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: dolce sfogato]
Mostly Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/10
Posts: 271
They're really different though :p
It always made me laugh that I like Glazunov (his Etudes are good too), because I really dislike Schumann / Wagner / Brahms... His sonatas sure have something derivative, but they have also some kind of, I don't know, "pristine" sound, some genuine lyricism. I really tear up, especially in the first sonata (but why must the climaxes be sooo short, it's unfair. I usually play them twice because otherwise I'm frustrated...)


I like Gilel's, but I also like to play the third movement a bit slower and softer... And it's just amazing when the main theme comes back in the bass... *sings aloud*
The Scherzo is not my favorite part... And I love chords ! Nothing more beautiful than huge, plentiful chords that make a piano resound with might (I saw a thread on Pogorelich around here, but however worse he may play today, he used to sound those chords and bass octaves so sweetly... I heard a Brahms ballade by him on Youtube, 118-3 I think, I had the whole thing in my head for days)

Midnight break is over, time to practice some more...


Edited by Mostly (06/04/10 08:34 PM)

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#1450444 - 06/04/10 08:34 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: Mostly]
dolce sfogato Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 2626
Loc: Netherlands
If you like chords so much: ALKAN!!!
_________________________
Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!

Couperin pièces, Ravel tombeau de C

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#1450446 - 06/04/10 08:36 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: dolce sfogato]
Mostly Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/10
Posts: 271
That the mystery, I dislike Alkan... Except the last part of the solo piano symphony (or is it concerto ?) in b flat minor I think, when there is this nice melody in the bass in octaves. Reminds me of a similar etude by Scriabin (in G# minor, somewhere in op.8), or well, many other pieces by Scriabin.
I'll take any recommendation on Alkan though, but I like my chords emotional !


Edited by Mostly (06/04/10 08:37 PM)

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#1450497 - 06/04/10 10:03 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: Mostly]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: Mostly
I like my chords emotional !


Sorry, that made me laugh! laugh
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"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

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#1450506 - 06/04/10 10:20 PM Re: Rachmaninov 1st sonata [Re: stores]
Mostly Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/10
Posts: 271
That was the intent though, so don't apologize... :p

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