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#2044851 - 03/08/13 12:38 AM Differences between the versions of Rachmaninov 4th
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7781
Loc: New York City
Hello all,

I did some searches and I'm fairly confident there has never been a thread about this before. So here's my problem: I've seen that there is a first version, second version, etc, of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 4. What are the differences between the versions? Does one have more bars than another? Are there large section changes? Is it just minor note changes? Just articulation and dynamic changes? I don't own all the versions (obviously) and I can't access PDF files of all the versions either. (Rach 4 seems to be less "available" online than the other three concertos? Maybe something to do with copyright? It's also more expensive to buy the score...)

Edit: Just saw that the 1st concerto has the same multiple version thing going on. Never knew this before... wink


Edited by Polyphonist (03/08/13 12:42 AM)
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Polyphonist

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#2044854 - 03/08/13 12:43 AM Re: Differences between the versions of Rachmaninov 4th [Re: Polyphonist]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2151
Loc: Canada
I haven't seen the first edition, but there are a lot of cuts made between the first and second version, particularly in the third movement. I think it was Ashkenazy or someone else who played the manuscript version.

Checking Wikipedia, there are 3 versions (manuscript, 1928 and 1941), with the 1941 being the most commonly played, but with the most cuts.

The first version was revised when the composer was much more mature (it's actually his op.1), and there is a lot of thinning of the texture and transferring his late-style of writing to his more youthful work.

I think there's a consensus that Rachmaninoff's revision of the first concerto worked really well, whereas his cuts to the 4th had the same debilitating effect as in the second sonata and the second symphony.


Edited by Kuanpiano (03/08/13 12:45 AM)
_________________________
Working on:
Chopin - Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante
Rachmaninoff - Preludes op. 23 nos. 3,4,6, op. 32 no.12
Franck - Violin Sonata

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#2044856 - 03/08/13 12:47 AM Re: Differences between the versions of Rachmaninov 4th [Re: Polyphonist]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7781
Loc: New York City
Thanks Kuan...been doing a bit more research and Ashkenazy, in an interview, actually says something about huge sections being cut out of one or another of the versions. It doesn't make me any less confused. wink

Seems like most pianists play the third version, but a few don't. Maybe I'll just listen to some people and read along in my score (which I believe is the manuscript or "first version") and see what they do, and maybe mark cuts or places where sections are added.
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Polyphonist

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#2044857 - 03/08/13 12:51 AM Re: Differences between the versions of Rachmaninov 4th [Re: Kuanpiano]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7781
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano

I think there's a consensus that Rachmaninoff's revision of the first concerto worked really well, whereas his cuts to the 4th had the same debilitating effect as in the second sonata and the second symphony.


And the third concerto as well. It actually seems to me that he cut out some of the most beautiful parts of the third in his own recording. wink
Good thing most pianists are playing the piece without cuts now. Apparently the 4th wasn't so lucky. mad
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Polyphonist

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#2044859 - 03/08/13 12:55 AM Re: Differences between the versions of Rachmaninov 4th [Re: Polyphonist]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2151
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano

I think there's a consensus that Rachmaninoff's revision of the first concerto worked really well, whereas his cuts to the 4th had the same debilitating effect as in the second sonata and the second symphony.


And the third concerto as well. It actually seems to me that he cut out some of the most beautiful parts of the third in his own recording. wink
Good thing most pianists are playing the piece without cuts now. Apparently the 4th wasn't so lucky. mad

Totally agree!! Thank goodness his cuts didn't make it to the published manuscript. I'm not actually familiar with the original version of Rach 4, so I'll check it out tomorrow!
_________________________
Working on:
Chopin - Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante
Rachmaninoff - Preludes op. 23 nos. 3,4,6, op. 32 no.12
Franck - Violin Sonata

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#2044866 - 03/08/13 01:33 AM Re: Differences between the versions of Rachmaninov 4th [Re: Polyphonist]
jeffreyjones Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2398
Loc: San Jose, CA
I hadn't heard it before. I just listened to the slow movement and the final Allegro; it's just got more of everything, similar to the uncut versions of the Third Concerto and Second Sonata vs. the cuts you sometimes encounter in older recordings. I have to say it's vastly better uncut, and I don't feel that way about those other two (they drag on too long with lots of repetitive material).

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#2044881 - 03/08/13 03:37 AM Re: Differences between the versions of Rachmaninov 4th [Re: Polyphonist]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
The cuts made for the recording of the 3rd were purely for time constraints of the recording technology.

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#2045014 - 03/08/13 11:07 AM Re: Differences between the versions of Rachmaninov 4th [Re: debrucey]
Hank Drake Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/01
Posts: 1664
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
Originally Posted By: debrucey
The cuts made for the recording of the 3rd were purely for time constraints of the recording technology.


That's a common misconception. Rachmaninoff created the cuts for concert use, long before the piece was recorded.
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The composers want performers be imaginative, in the direction of their thinking--not just robots, who execute orders.
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#2045047 - 03/08/13 12:24 PM Re: Differences between the versions of Rachmaninov 4th [Re: Hank Drake]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8940
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Hank Drake
Rachmaninoff created the cuts for concert use, long before the piece was recorded.

Though presumably at its initial performances under Damrosch and Mahler in New York it was played uncut, or is there no way of knowing this?

Interesting that cuts in the 3rd movement lasted well into the modern recording era. Some people claim that it tightens the movement up, but to me, some of the best music is sacrificed!
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#2045083 - 03/08/13 02:01 PM Re: Differences between the versions of Rachmaninov 4th [Re: argerichfan]
Hank Drake Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/01
Posts: 1664
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Though presumably at its initial performances under Damrosch and Mahler in New York it was played uncut, or is there no way of knowing this?

Interesting that cuts in the 3rd movement lasted well into the modern recording era. Some people claim that it tightens the movement up, but to me, some of the best music is sacrificed!


AFAIK, it was not cut during the 1909 American tour. But Rachmaninoff did make the cuts very shortly thereafter - probably the result of several remarks by critics to the effect that it was too long (critics were as stupid then as they are now) and the composer's own propensity for self-criticism and the evisceration of his own works: Second Sonata, Second Symphony, etc.

Rachmaninoff was also known to make cuts "on the fly" when he sensed he was losing the audience. He wrote an associate after a performance of the Corelli Variations that he skipped so many variations that there wasn't much left of the piece.
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Hank Drake

The composers want performers be imaginative, in the direction of their thinking--not just robots, who execute orders.
George Szell

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#2045116 - 03/08/13 03:03 PM Re: Differences between the versions of Rachmaninov 4th [Re: Polyphonist]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7781
Loc: New York City
Seems like each time he revised it he just cut more material out. I'll have to listen to Ashkenazy's recording or somebody else who plays the manuscript, just to be familiar with the cut sections. In Rach's own recording, he takes the cuts. Disappointing really. I wish Rachmaninov had stuck to original manuscripts more often. So many of the cuts he made were detrimental to his works. frown


Edited by Polyphonist (03/08/13 03:04 PM)
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Polyphonist

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#2045118 - 03/08/13 03:10 PM Re: Differences between the versions of Rachmaninov 4th [Re: Polyphonist]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5594
Even today, it's still common to have the final climaxes in the first movement cadenza lopped off, in the belief it's one (or two) climax too many and no pianist can keep racheting up the fff chords. Horowitz's performances from 1966 onwards did that cut, though he restored all the cuts in the finale that he used to make in his earlier performances and recordings.

And a small section of the finale is also still commonly cut. (BTW, I'm referring to the 3rd concerto).

Thankfully, the majority don't. I'm still looking forward to the day when Rachmaninoff's 1913 version of his Sonata No.2 becomes standard, rather than the mix & match approach (or, even worse, the 1931 version which sounds so sectionalized) that too many pianists employ. Rachmaninoff simply became too self-critical when he came to USA, and made his living mostly as a performer. What would have happened to his Sonata No.1 if he took his chainsaw to it the way he did with No.2?



Edited by bennevis (03/08/13 03:14 PM)
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"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2045164 - 03/08/13 04:23 PM Re: Differences between the versions of Rachmaninov 4th [Re: bennevis]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8940
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: bennevis
What would have happened to his Sonata No.1 if he took his chainsaw to it the way he did with No.2?

On the flip side, I wonder what Rachmaninov would have come up with had he written his Paganini Rhapsody (one of his most perfect works, IMO) in 1903 (the year of the not-so-perfect Chopin Variations) instead of 1934?
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#2045170 - 03/08/13 04:40 PM Re: Differences between the versions of Rachmaninov 4th [Re: argerichfan]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5594
Originally Posted By: argerichfan

On the flip side, I wonder what Rachmaninov would have come up with had he written his Paganini Rhapsody (one of his most perfect works, IMO) in 1903 (the year of the not-so-perfect Chopin Variations) instead of 1934?


Every variation would have a long-breathed luscious melody, richly harmonized (like the unforgettable clarinet melody in his Symphony No.2's slow movement) rather than just Variation No.18, and it would be twice as long, and better for it wink.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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